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). 

Monday, February 17, 2020

WSIBC: "God and Values"

I continue now with my examination of James Anderson’s apologetic book Why Should I Believe Christianity? (WSIBC), exploring the second case for theism that he presents in the fourth chapter of his book.

As I noted in an earlier installment in this series, Anderson presents six cases for the existence of a supernatural being we’re supposed to call “God”. I have already refuted the first of his cases (in two installments: here and here).

In the present entry I will examine his second case, “God and Values.” Unfortunately, this case suffers from some fatal defects, and nothing he presents in his second case overcomes the damning liabilities I uncovered in his first case. 

Sunday, February 02, 2020

WSIBC: “God and Existence” – Part 2: Contingency Desperation

In my previous entry I began exploring the first of six cases which Christian apologist James Anderson presents in defense of theism in the fourth chapter of his book Why Should I Believe Christianity? (WSIBC). We see in that entry that Anderson opens his first case by repeating “the Question” which Martin Heidegger raised in the 1950s, namely “Why does anything exist at all?” (p. 102). In that entry I cited reasons for dismissing this question as irrational (most importantly, because it invites the fallacy of the stolen concept).

I ended my initial exploration of Anderson’s case by leaving open the possibility that, even if one acknowledges the fallaciousness of “the Question,” Anderson’s case may still have merits. So in this entry I will continue my examination of Anderson’s first case to see if in fact it provides any good reasons for believing that a god exists.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

WSIBC: “God and Existence” – Part 1: “The Question”

In chapter 4 of his book Why Should I Believe Christianity? (WSIBC), author James Anderson presents his reasons for believing that a god exists. Over the next few installments in my examination of Anderson’s book, I will focus on each of the sections of this chapter. Anderson heads the six sections of chapter 4, subtitled “God is There,” which runs from pages 93 to 138, with the following headings:
“God and Existence”(pp. 102-106)  
“God and Values” (pp. 106-110)  
“God and Morality” (pp. 110-115)  
“God and Reason” (pp. 115-119)  
“God and Mind” (pp. 119-125)  
“God and Science” (pp. 126-135)
Anderson closes out the chapter with a discussion regarding whether or not arguments are needed in the first place for believing that a god exists – and given that the vast majority of believers accept their theism on psycho-emotional grounds as opposed to rational grounds, there should be no surprise when Anderson concludes that arguments in fact are not needed (now he tells us!). A number of issues come to the surface in that section, so that will have to wait for a later entry on this blog. For now, I want to explore the first case which Anderson outlines in his book’s fourth chapter. After reviewing the six preceding sections of the chapter, one might suppose that he should have just skipped them entirely. 

Friday, December 27, 2019

WSIBC: Divine Voices and Failed Arguments

I am continuing to work through James Anderson’s book Why Should I Believe Christianity (WSIBC) and now have well over a hundred pages of handwritten notes that I’ll need to edit and transcribe at some point, so that I can share the results of my examination with you, my readers. I expect that before my next installment in this series, after this present one, I’ll have over two hundred pages of notes! There’s so much to interact with and so many opportunities for interaction that I suspect this project might occupy me for some time. This undertaking is deliciously rewarding for me, and I hope that readers get at least some value from what I produce here on this.

In the present entry, I want to revisit an issue which came up in my previous entry, namely Anderson’s stipulations about how we do not gain awareness of the Christian god. This is a critical matter since the question of how one has awareness of the object of his worship strikes me as having central importance, both philosophically as well as devotionally, especially if one is attempting to attract newcomers to Christianity as a worldview which is supposed to be true and also solve philosophical problems better than other worldviews. And yet this area seems to get little direct attention. All too often, for instance, we’re told – as Anderson himself tells us – how one does not have awareness of the Christian god, leaving insufficiently unattended the question of how one does have awareness of the Christian god. When the latter is discussed, as we shall find, it is often layered in metaphor, which is hardly conducive to investigation and confidence and suggestive of speculation and concealment.