Sunday, June 28, 2020

Reader Email Backlog

Hello Everyone,

Since the COVID thing started, we’ve experienced a massive spike in demand. So the plant is working overtime, and so am I! That means that time available for me to devote to IP is pretty much non-existent. Hence I won’t be able to post a normal entry this month - I’ve just been way too busy! I did have a couple entries planned, but I had to back-burner them for the time being.

Similarly for all the email I’ve received over the last couple months from readers. I’ve simply not been able to keep up, but I do wildly appreciate all the feedback, suggestions and questions. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to get back to everyone, so please don’t think I’m simply ignoring you.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

WSIBC: Presup Enters Rehab

Christian apologist James Anderson closes out the fourth chapter of his book Why Should I Believe Christianity? (WSIBC) with a section titled “Does God Really Need To be Proven?” – a provocative question indeed given that he devoted the chapter up to this point to laying out his six cases for theism. And it almost seems to be a trick question of sorts, given the way it is phrased: even if one believes that there’s a god, how could one suppose it has any needs at all, let alone a “need to be proven”? I thought one of the advantage of being a god was that it has no needs to begin with. Thus it seems the section is starting out with a hint as to how Anderson is going to answer his own question by the way he heads it.

Of course, the non-existent has no needs, but man’s mind does have needs. Nothing will ensure that a “worldview” will in fact address and satisfy those needs, but it is the task of philosophy to identify and understand those needs and point to rational solutions. 

Monday, May 18, 2020

WSIBC: "God and Science"

I shall now take up the sixth and final case which James Anderson presents in the fourth chapter of his book Why Should I Believe Christianity? (WSIBC), which is found under the subheading “God and Science.” As this would have the reader suppose, here Anderson attempts to secure the conclusion that science as such implies, or rather “presupposes,” the existence of what Christians throughout history have called “God.” If it could be shown that science were not possible unless the god of Abraham and Moses were real, that would be rather noteworthy, or earthshaking as believers would prefer.

If readers have been following along, one might expect at this point to find more god-talk than science in Anderson’s string of paragraphs. That would be due at least in part to the fact that the previous five cases have not survived scrutiny well at all, which is regrettable given that Anderson’s book enjoys a spot on Steve Hays’ list of Required reading for atheists. Incidentally, Hays’ list also includes William Lane Craig, Edward Feser and Craig Keener, and even plugs the ontological argument as well as Anderson’s own “Argument for God from Logic.”

But I digress. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

WSIBC: "God and Mind"

We come now to Anderson’s fifth case, “God and Mind,” presented in the fourth chapter of his book Why Should I Believe Christianity? (WSIBC). Here Anderson claims that the mere existence of human minds is evidence for the existence of a supernatural being which Christianity lovingly calls “God.” The basic strategy here has a familiar ring to it: take something we all can reasonably be expected to “take for granted,” probe it with a few open-ended questions to which the reader is supposed to shrug his shoulders and confess “Gee, I donno!” and then skewer an alternative point of view opposed to the Christian worldview. Christianity is thereby vindicated by default, pretty much by declaring what it asserts.

This basic approach, subject to wide variation, is characteristic of the strategy of assimilation that is the hallmark of the religious mind. This involves a predatory appropriation of this-worldly phenomena in an effort to recast them as projections sourced in alleged otherworldly forces, thereby presumably vindicating belief in the supernatural. And yet, the strands of inference from this world to a world essentially contradicting it are, to put it mildly, as fleeting and opaque as a forgotten dream. 

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Incinerating Presuppositionalism: Year Fifteen

We reach yet another milestone as this blog turns Fifteen! That’s like a hundred years in blogdom. It’s as though I were fifteen years younger when I started my blog… Indeed, I was! See how that works?

So I’d say it’s something to be proud of, and I am proud of it! It’s been a real labor of love for a significant portion of my life, and it’s something I hope to continue doing. Of course, as always, time is a factor, and so many things are competing for my attention.

I’m also thankful for all who have read my scribblings and have contributed comments over the years as well. I really do appreciate that. Not only did you read something from my hand, you also took the time to post some thoughts in reaction, and that only adds to the excitement.

Here are the blog entries for the past year, starting with the previous anniversary post:

459. Incinerating Presuppositionalism: Year Fourteen - March 26, 2019

460. Wilson’s Fixation on Fizzing - April 28, 2019

461. More on Wilson’s Fizzing about Fizzing - May 27, 2019

462. Does Objectivism Deny the Reality of Change? - June 26, 2019

463. The Agony of Agnosticism, or: Why Not Mature Thoughtfulness? - July 28, 2019

464. Pardon My Skepticism… - August 14, 2019

465. Shrugging off Mysticism - September 26, 2019

466. Hallomeanie! - October 31, 2019

467. ”He is found in our hearts” - November 8, 2019

468. Initial Questions for Anderson’s “Why Should I Believe Christianity” - November 22, 2019

469. Preliminary Worldview Considerations before Anderson’s WSIBC - November 27, 2019

470. WSIBC: “Competing Worldviews” - December 1, 2019

471. WSIBC: Divine Voices and Failed Arguments - December 27, 2019

472. WSIBC: “God and Existence” – Part 1: “The Question” - January 22, 2020

473. WSIBC: “God and Existence” – Part 2: Contingency Desperation - February 2, 2020

474. WSIBC: “God and Values” - February 17, 2020

475. WSIBC: “God and Morality” - March 8, 2020

476. WSIBC: “God and Reason” - March 15, 2020

Now I’ve never made much of an effort in the past to track page views or visits data on my blog. In that way, I’m not much of marketer of my site. It’s never been very important to me. But as I was reviewing other traffic data (apparently someone in Turkmenistan likes to visit my blog… who knew?), I did notice that my post Wilson’s Fixation on Fizzing from this past year has had a huge number of page views. So I looked back and found that this entry is likely already in the top five of most-visited posts since the inception of Incinerating Presuppositionalism in 2005. Amazingly, it’s not too far off from two of the most-viewed entries on my blog, which is A Critique of Sye Ten Bruggencate’s (published in August 2010) and A Proof that the Christian God Does Not Exist (published in July 2011). Apparently there are readers out there interested in how to interact with Doug Wilson’s caricature. Hopefully they’ve found my remarks helpful – after all, at this time there are only two comments posted to that entry.

I am still working my way through James Anderson’s book Why Should I Believe Christianity? and I hope to have another installment up in that series early next month. I’ve been really enjoying that!

Times are very strange now, as everyone knows. Stay safe and keep your head straight! We will get through this.

by Dawson Bethrick

Sunday, March 15, 2020

WSIBC: "God and Reason"

We come now to the fourth section of the fourth chapter of James Anderson’s book Why Should I Believe Christianity? which is subtitled “God and Reason.” Here he presents his case for the view that reason is best explained by Christian theism.

Anderson opens this section as follows:
Critics of religion often pride themselves on their rationality, and they like to cast the debate in terms of reason versus faith. Atheists stand on reason, we’re told, while religious folks have to fall back on faith. Richard Dawkins, for example, pejoratively refers to religious believers as ‘faith-heads’ while presiding over the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. (p. 115)
It’s true that disagreements between religionists and rational thinkers often touch on the conflict between reason and faith, and this is a serious issue. I see it as a good thing that Anderson at least acknowledges that it is an issue. However, I found that the word ‘faith’ appears only three times in this entire section, and those three instances are confined to just this first paragraph. The statement here reads as though Anderson disagrees with the view that reason and faith are in conflict with each other, but he does not actually expand on this in the proceeding section. I’d think that, if he suspects that critics of religion are mistaken in concluding that faith and reason are at odds with each other, this section would be a great place to put that supposed myth to rest once and for all. Unfortunately, that’s not what happens here. Rather he drops the topic of faith just as in “God and Existence” he dropped Heidegger’s “The Question.” Seems to be a pattern here. 

Sunday, March 08, 2020

WSIBC: "God and Morality"

In the section titled “God and Morality” of the fourth chapter of Why Should I Believe Christianity? (WSIBC), James Anderson offers what he calls “an extension of the previous [argument]” (WSIBC, p. 110), namely the case he calls “God and Values” (which I have examined here). Since I understand values to be a moral category, I could see why one would think there’s some overlap here. You think?

Anderson holds that “the most important value judgments we make in life are moral judgments,” adding that “we make decisions based on moral values, and we make moral judgments about other people’s decisions and actions” (pp. 110-111).