Sunday, February 26, 2017

More on Hearing Voices in His Head

In this post, I pick up from my previous entry and explore Anderson’s appraisal of the objections that he considers in response to apologetic appeals to “internal testimony of the Holy Spirit.”

Before doing so, it may not be necessary to point this out, but I will in case it slips anyone’s mind, namely that appeals to “internal testimony of the Holy Spirit” as Christianity informs this notion logically assume the existence of the Christian god. So if this assumption is disputed, then appeals to the “internal testimony of the Holy Spirit” are premature at best. At any rate, it is viciously circular to appeal to “the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit” in an attempt to validate the claim that a god exists in the first place, for such an appeal assumes what’s needed to be validated in the first place. And as I have pointed out numerous times in the past, we have no alternative but to imagine any god one claims to believe in.

Even when it comes to apologetic arguments, we have no alternative but to imagine the god whose existence those arguments are intended to prove when we come to their conclusions.

For example, consider the following argument:
Premise 1: If the universe was created, then God must exist in order to have created it. Premise 2: The universe was created. Conclusion: Therefore, God must exist in order to have created it.
Here it should be clear that, even if we accept the premises that the universe was created and that a god must have created it, we have no alternative but to imagine said god when we arrive at this argument’s conclusion. The same problem afflicts all apologetic arguments, thus serving as a great equalizer of sorts in leveling all apologetic arguments to useless rubble.

So if apologists cannot overcome weaknesses such as this, then I submit that there’s no hope for any defensive artifice they may attempt to erect on behalf of their religious beliefs. This does not bode well for Anderson’s defense of the notion of enjoying “internal testimony of the Holy Spirit,” for while I can in fact imagine that Anderson’s god exists and that he has in fact received revelatory transmissions from that god, I am nevertheless acutely aware of the facts that I am merely imagining these things and that I have no alternative to doing so if I am to contemplate his god-belief claims.
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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Hearing Voices in Your Head

Recently Christian apologist James Anderson published an article titled How Do You Know That the Bible Is God’s Word? in the Christian Research Journal. In it he defends a magical form of knowing known among Reformed Christians as “the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit.” This notion is essentially a safely lever which apologists can pull when their apologetic defenses are shown to be the fault-ridden vehicles they are, so it’s not unsurprising to find Anderson producing a defense of this notion, since it stands as a refuge in which apologists will inevitably need to seek shelter.

In setting up his case, Anderson makes reference to John 10:27, which inserts the words “My sheep hear my voice” in Jesus’ mouth. The idea here is that, if someone doesn’t believe (presumably on first hearing), then that person is to be dismissed as not numbering among “the Lord’s sheep.” Of course, none of this constitutes an argument; rather, such claims are asserted in place of an argument, much like a slogan or platitude, and has no more substance than “Four out of five dentists surveyed…”
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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Theism and Thumb-sucking

Steve Hays of Triablogue is fond of trying to turn secular criticisms of religion back on themselves. In the case of poorly considered criticisms, this can certainly be effective against the criticisms in question, or some questionable premise upon which they may rest. Of course, to suppose further that this somehow implies that any particular secular worldview is therefore invalid or untrue, or that religion is beyond criticism, is simply wishful thinking masquerading as a lofty conclusion. It is also amusing when such efforts backfire (e.g., see here).

In an entry posted in late November this year titled Outgrowing God, Hays tackles the view that theistic beliefs are a childish indulgence and therefore should be abandoned as one matures along with other childish occupations, such as bed-wetting, thumb-sucking, sulking when one does not get his way, pretending that Middle Earth really exists, etc.
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Friday, November 25, 2016

Here we go again...

I swear, if I had a dime for every time a thinker came along and tried to disprove the primacy of existence, I’d well be on my way to a very rich man ‘bout now!

Seriously, I should start charging a fee! The most recent effort that I’ve seen comes from none other than Francois Tremblay, himself a valiant blogger on a wide variety of philosophical matters (including anti-theism). Earlier this month, while I was out traveling on business, Francois left a comment on my blog Normativity and the Primacy of Existence in which he stated:
I've written a refutation of Bahnsen Burner's position on this issue, which you might find interesting. https://francoistremblay.wordpress.com/2015/05/05/is-existence-really-primary-in-the-way-objectivism-states/
Now, I haven’t been a regular reader of Francois’ writings since back in the days of Goosing the Antithesis, a blog which Francois shared with Zachary Moore and Aaron Kinney, and whose last post dates back to January of 2009. So, with probably a couple exceptions here and there, I have not kept up on the direction that Francois’ thinking has traveled in the now going on eight years since. So on any given Sunday, I wouldn’t be able to say what Francois thinks about anything.

So after settling back into my typically chaotic routine after visiting some clients in faraway places, I thumbed through my inbox and saw Francois’ comment. Never one to be surprised by Francois’ offerings (not because they’re not surprising, but because, in somewhat Pavlovian manner, I’ve learned not to allow myself to be surprised by them), I thought to myself “here we go again…” as I warmed up for another binge of rapid-fire face-palming (if you thought I was doing something else to wear out my palm, you were wrong).
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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Exchange with a Presuppositionalist

Over the past few weeks I’ve been engaged in an exchange with a presuppositionalist apologist over on the comments section of one his blog’s entries which dates from several years ago. He posts under the moniker ANNOYED PINOY (abbreviated as “AP” hereafter) and is a frequent visitor at Triablogue. The blog of his where we’ve been dialoguing (he’s apparently got several blogs) is called Miscellaneous Lane, and the specific entry where we have been dialoguing is: Definitions of Atheism (posted 4 Dec. 2013). I thought readers of this blog may find the exchange interesting, so I wanted to post a link to it.

Below are a few of the more notable highlights from our exchange.

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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Does One Need Evidence to Be an Atheist?

“[A]theism is just a statement of what an atheist doesn't believe rather than what he does believe” – Steve Hays
Over on Triablogue, Steve Hays posted an entry provocatively titled There’s no evidence for atheism. In it, he argues that atheists are essentially at a loss when it comes to producing a positive case for atheism, that the most they can do is raise objections to theism. One wonders if he has ever read George H. Smith’s book Atheism: The Case Against God. Of course, that raises the question of what constitutes a positive argument for a position. Then again, we should also not overlook the obvious fact that atheism is not a position to begin with; it is essentially a negation, a negation of theism. Sort of like a-Moonism: here “a-Moonist” would simply refer to someone who does not subscribe to the teachings of Sun Myung Moon. This does nothing to indicate which views to which an a-Moonist does subscribe. In fact, I’d wager that Steve Hays would consider himself an a-Moonist (in spite of Moonism’s Christian roots), just as I do given that I do not subscribe to the teachings of Sun Myung Moon.

So the question boils down to: Does one need a positive argument to support a negation of a belief system? Does one need evidence if he does not subscribe to a belief system? Do I need evidence to be an a-Moonist? If so, why?
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Sunday, August 07, 2016

Normativity and the Primacy of Existence

Ever-valiant defender of the faith James Anderson has posted a blog entry titled Atheism, Amoralism, and Arationalism. It’s more of the usual fare that we’ve all seen many times before, the same tired claim that atheism as such is philosophically self-destructive because of some imagined consequence it supposedly has for the basis of thought and virtue. Anderson just likes to use a lot of big words in order to make his version appear more beefy.

There’s a lot of material to chew on in Anderson’s piece, and I may interact more with his statements there in future installments on my own blog if I find myself so inclined. For the present entry, I will focus primarily on one of the several related issues Anderson raises, namely the idea of normativity.

Anderson produces a quote from Alvin Plantinga indicating that “normativity” – essentially a standard for “right and wrong” and “good and bad” – is incompatible with “metaphysical naturalism.” You see, metaphysical naturalism, says Plantinga, “has no room for normativity.” If this is true, that’s too bad for metaphysical naturalism.

But it’s certainly not the case in Objectivism. In fact, one could argue quite feasibly that normativity is implicit in every act of consciousness, even sensation and perception, given the primacy of existence. The primacy of existence is the proper orientation between consciousness and its objects, and below I will delve deeper into this. Ironically, in spite of Plantinga’s assertions, theism rejects the primacy of existence and consequently is incompatible with normativity.

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