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This is pretty much why I don’t debate theists anymore, if you cannot even agree on basic terms, how can you possibly come to any conclusions together? You’ll just be wasting each others time, talking past each other. I instead like to talk in a presuppositional (assume it’s true) sense with theists, ask them about their theology so I might better come to understand it, I find conversations go better that way, especially on the internet.

ECREE is often railed against by the theist community (is there even such a thing?) Reppert has done so too (here, here, here, here,).  I fear there will be a never-ending debate on this issue, even once the term is elaborated,  it comes to simply: (atheist) “you accept evidence I don’t” and (theist) “you don’t accept evidence I do“, how do you cross that impasse?

I guess we have to assume for the sake or argument that this person has the lock on what is moral or not? Since it seems we’re getting to call whomever we choose immoral according to whatever we like: “anyone who doesn’t sleep on their stomach is immoral“, but wait, that’s relativistic isn’t it? Shame. The problem with this kind of slander is (a) what’s the point? (and it makes him look exactly like the “Gnu atheists” he seems to despise)  (b) even if his morals come from God, there are theists who disagree (see the survey presented here, the full survey here) with his positions on the “moral” issues he presents (which isn’t to say they’re not necessarily moral, only to say the issue isn’t as clear-cut as he supposes), so I don’t know how he can claim an absolute (if you’re on the other side of X issue you are immoral), when there clearly isn’t one. This is fundamentalist reasoning.

(more “Gnu Atheist” language here) See more on this article here and here. I’m personally torn on the issue of “religion is evil, it makes us do bad things“, I land more in the “bad ideas, bad reasoning, and poor standards of evidence, can lead us to make bad decisions” camp. Think about Naturopathy, Acupuncture, Homeopathy, leaving aside the issue of religion for a moment, these procedures, where not backed by appropriate levels of evidence (usually defined as double-blind controlled clinical trials) can lead us to adopt inferior medical practices instead of using evidence-based medicine, which can lead to obvious harm. Apply it to religion, we get similar consequences, when people believe things for bad reasons (jury’s still out for me on whether all theists believe for bad reasons- for example, could you say Alvin Plantinga believes for bad reasons? Depends what you mean by “bad“, he’s certainly not an idiot and it’s not like he can’t justify his beliefs, however misguided I, or others might think he is). But this approach of “whenever someone says something bad about some religious person doing a bad thing” you need to pull out instances of “atheist regimes“; there are 2 problems with this (1) couldn’t you simply condemn the bad behaviour by whatever religious person and say “this person does not represent us, and I oppose their actions“? (2) atheist regime means nothing, we can’t establish causation simply because a Christian does something wrong, we need to see if what they did wrong is endorsed and promoted by their worldview, if it isn’t it’s not Christianity’s fault. Same thing with atheism, what does atheism implicitly say that would lead atheist regimes to do anything? Absolutely nothing! This is tired and common apologetic, it’s aim is to be divisive, nothing more.

Are we meant to become theists based on the evidence? Is that how most theists got their god-belief? I’m gonna go out on a limb and say, it seems it’s largely emotional, then supported by the evidence that supports their presuppositions (I’m not condemning presuppositions, we all have them). If I don’t have your revelation, or an emotional appeal, and the evidence doesn’t convince me, how can I possibly be condemned to hell? Just suck it up an pretend? Well that’s living a lie now isn’t it. Seems I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t, in the immortal words of Bill Hicks: “thanks for giving LORD, for all those options“.

Some pretty cool examples from famous atheists cutting straight to the heart of why they lack a belief in a god or gods (depending on the definitions of such).

MacDonald’s series (subsequent posts here, here, here) critiquing Alistair McGrath, I only have his book “The Twilight of Atheism” (still have not read it) which as MacDonald notes, is perfectly titled and timed as it was released just before atheism really became popular.

(and another link here) This kind of attitude is what I was talking about when I was discussing bad ideas being dangerous, this person offers one study, as a supposed refutation to the scientific consensus and we’re supposed to give up on all the evidence for climate change (see a critique of Spencer’s article here, here  and here and a general critique of his work can be found here)? This is what happens when you have a presupposition (e.g.- God said he’d never flood the earth again) coupled with horrible standards of evidence. It is unlikely that this idea would catch on by those in power (as they are informed by consensus, not by single studies by crackpots) but it demonstrates a problem, this person and people who agree with him,  lobbying for this position, which is not backed by sufficient evidence, simply to push an agenda (presuppositions) what reason is there to promote climate denialism? It’s certainly not the evidence. This is creationism applied to climate science.

(see more here and here and here) I’ve read Chris Hedges “I don’t believe in atheists” a long time ago, and it seemed much along the lines of this review, charging both sides of the theism/atheism debate with some utopian fantasy that will never come true. I don’t understand that kind of mentality personally, but MacDonald does a better job than me, articulating why it’s a lame perspective.

How can you not love Robert Price? I’m currently reading (Reverend) Lee Strobel’s book “A Case for Christ“, and simultaneously reading Price’s “The Case Against the Case for Christ“, which makes any critique I might have pretty much redundant. I’ve been getting back into reading Christian literature again lately, I just read C.S Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” (here, and here) and Norman Geisler’s “Christian Apologetics” which was really good, aside from disagreeing with much of it, (his first cause argument, arguments for the resurrection etc), his philosophy was really interesting, and taught me some things. Geisler doesn’t accept personal experience as a means to convince others, which I too agree with (revelation is necessarily first person, describing your revelation to me is like trying to describe colour to a blind man), he doesn’t accept a priori or a posteriori proofs for God’s existence (citing that they all fail and why), which I obviously agree with (his first causes argument has a priori and a posteriori elements to it), and his chapters on evidentialism were really interesting too (even if I did disagree in the end), a recommended read to Christians (and atheists too).

Sums up exactly what I’ve attempted to say here, here.

Some climate change info, more here.

Abstinence.

This issue seems to largely divide the theist/atheist camps, with the religious attempting to define faith as some kind of trust, based on evidence (what that means I do not know) where as atheists attempt to use the word to mean something along the lines of belief without evidence. I leave you to decide where you fall on that spectrum.

Biological basis for morality?

As a semi vegetarian, it’s not hard to imagine where I stand on this.

Some journal articles for you (and below).

Even Swinburne and Plantinga can’t agree.

The more I learn about debating tactics, and I admit I’m severely uneducated, the more you learn to take a more meta analytical approach to the discussion, realizing that not every comment deserves a response, that sometimes critiquing the fallacy is as good as critiquing the argument. Here we see that. Some people make such silly assertions you really do need to just, as the author says “point and laugh“…

News

This study should be no surprise to anyone right?

(and more here) Don’t think Australia has a problem with fundamentalists attempting to push their agenda onto the rest of us? Look no further (actually do look further, as in here).

Appropriately named. This is a perfect example of why religion needs a discourse, why people who don’t believe in God need to voice that opinion, you may not care about atheism, but Christians do, and they’re prepared to stand up for their beliefs, the least you could do, is stand up for your rights.

I haven’t put my hat in this ring so I thought I’d be clear, I don’t really think Brevick’s Christianity (if he indeed was one) had much if anything to do with what he did, but that really is a huge issue, the important thing in this blog is the demonstration of bias, it shows us that although many Christians, like many Muslims believe they are in a “religion of peace” there are extremists among you, which is exactly what Harris discusses (that moderates pave the way for extremists). It’s up to you, who call yourself Christians to come out, oppose this, condemn it, and make a better Christianity (it’s obviously up to the rest of us too, but I doubt a Christian is going to be convinced by me). For me this has more to do with bad ideas, leading to bad consequences than any specific indictment of religion (though I might agree with that analysis).

Jesus would be proud (see here for the specifics and more here). This is in line with the above, are we to say that all these people who said this, weren’t Christians? Maybe, maybe not, seems once you go down that road, the only Christian left in the world, is you.

Again, not a Christian? Who is then? Only the ones who do good things? This and the above examples aren’t Christians doing things that aren’t to do with Christianity, they are doing things in and around their worldview (is Brevick the exception?), correlation causation, it’s a bitch to establish.

Another perspective. I agree with him (and Nick here) that Brevick’s actions are no real reason to reject Christianity, but I’d also ask, who is rejecting Christianity due to some idiots within it? If there are any atheists using that as a justification for their atheism, they are misguided. At best it works as a critique on the harms of religion, and why an evidence based worldview might be better, but to simply say “Christians kill ergo I don’t believe in God“? There seem to be some steps missing in that logic.

Wow, more here and here.

(More here) As Ophelia Benson said: “If people don’t like Perry’s use of his governorship to promote religion they can just ignore it.” Seems divisiveness just got governmental support.

And more here.

Church led “no true Scotsman” fallacy…Well, not really.

Is Africa destined to become a religious wasteland?

I’ve seen the authors over at Triablogue make a similar claim.

And more here and here.

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  1. August 18, 2011 at 10:05 am

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