Friday, May 20, 2016

Frame vs. Poythress on the Notion of ‘Chance’

As a matter of thoughtless routine, Christian apologists the internet over love to accuse non-believers of believing in “a chance universe.” Typically the drive-by apologists who repeat this charge don’t elaborate on the matter or explain what exactly they mean. But it’s clear they think this is in itself a most damning infraction inherent to “atheism” (as though atheism were a “worldview”).

But what do apologists mean by “chance” in such contexts? Well, I’ve not found any definitions for this radioactive term in any of my bibles. We could infer from the context of apologists’ own statements, but this leaves the burden of divining the meaning of what apologists intend to say too much on the shoulders of those who are trying to understand them. Can’t apologists make their own terms clear? Can’t they explain why the charge of “believing in a universe of chance” is really so dreadful?

To put it mildly, apologists give mixed signals on the matter.

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Sunday, April 17, 2016

The "Mistakes of Apostates"

Last fall over on Triablogue, Steve Hays posted yet another blog entry maligning the character of “apostates” – i.e., former adherents of the Christian worldview. I suggest that everyone read Hays’ blog entry before reading what I have to say in response to it. Even more, as an exercise in critical thinking, form your own response to what Hays has to say before reading what I have to say below. Then come and read what I say and let me know what I’ve overlooked.

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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Incinerating Presuppositionalism: Year Eleven

The years are rolling by quickly, which means that the content on my blog continues to grow!

As is my “tradition” here at IP, each year on my blog’s birthday (the first entry being posted on March 26, 2005), I am posting the list of blog entries that I have published since the last anniversary of my blog, a year ago today. This entry will be placed in line with all the previous anniversary entries on the sidebar of my blog’s main landing page, for convenient reference.

Last year I reached the 400th blog entry, which may not seem like a huge number given the 10 years that those entries span. But keep in mind two points: one, I do not have a “staff” which performs admin duties on my behalf and adds filler posts here and there just for the heck of it – I’m all by my little lonesome here, jealously keeping all the fun to myself; two, the vast majority of my blog entries, as readers should already know, are fairly sizeable (recall all the complaints that my blog entries are “verbose” and “longwinded”) as I typically do more than just touch the surface of the matters that tackle.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

"Don't you dare disbelieve!"

We have already seen many ways in which faith opposes reason. (cf. here.) Thus we can say with certainty that a culture which predominantly adheres to faith is a culture inherently opposed to reason. It is because the vast majority of cultures throughout human history have, to one degree or another, set faith as a guiding virtue, that a culture which adheres to reason has been such a rarity.

One of the Enlightenment’s most valuable gifts to the world, a gift which has been rejected by most of it, is the concept of the separation of church and state. The development of this concept is testimony to the brilliant wisdom of America’s founders, a wisdom that has been taken for granted, distorted beyond recognition and trampled through a long series of Terminator-style assaults on individual liberty.

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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Creationism, the Universe, and Imagination

Religious apologists have a very limited set of gimmicks to use in defense of their theistic confessions. When more philosophical strategies focusing on the nature of knowledge, the source of morality, and criticism of rival philosophical viewpoints reach their stress point, apologists predictably fall back to questions such as “Where did it all come from?” and “Why is there something instead of nothing?” Or, as puts it, “Why do we have something rather than nothing at all?”

Such questions haunt the religious mind as never-resolvable puzzles that can only be put to rest by positing a supernatural mind. Why is this?

I think the most illuminating answer to why such questions persist in the apologetic arsenal of most religious thinkers, is one which does not help their religious cause. And this has chiefly to do with the role that the imagination plays in the very conceiving of such questions.

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Monday, February 15, 2016

G.A. Wells’ “Guidelines for Hostile Writing”

It has often been observed that it’s the pioneers who take the arrows. As independent thinkers throughout history have bravely ventured into uncharted territory, they naturally put themselves in harm’s way. This is no less true of those who challenge sacred traditions than it was of those who explored the rugged lands west of the Mississippi.

One thinker who has found himself in the sights of a frothingly hostile community since the 1971 publication of his book The Jesus of the Early Christians, is G.A. Wells. Wells is infamous not only for his tireless defense of theses exploring Christianity’s origins, but also for his sweeping familiarity with the history of critical theology.

As such, Wells is well acquainted with the usual tactics employed by apologists committing defending the traditions of the Christian establishment and to treating those who dare to question Christianity’s claim as sworn enemies. In the view of those who are confessionally invested in Christian dogma, Wells is an unpardonable trespasser worthy of nothing but the fiercest condemnation.

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Ten Ways Faith Opposes Reason

Thinkers since the Renaissance have rightly sensed the destructive conflict faith poses to man’s intellect, his freedom, and his advancement. There are a number of fundamental reasons for this, and I think it’s important to identify them in terms of reason's incompatibility with faith.

Faith (also mysticism) is essentially commitment to the imaginary without acknowledging the imaginary as unreal. As such, faith is a fundamental distinguishing feature of the religious view of the world, a view which makes the world in which we actually live take a backseat to an alleged realm that is accessible only by means of imagination.

In spite of faith’s elevating of imagination over facts, apologists for religious worldviews today, even in the West which enjoys historically unprecedented post-Enlightenment progress, still insist that their faith is compatible with reason. I can only suppose either that they simply do not understand the conflict between reason and faith, or that they want to downplay it in order to exonerate their own worldview’s complicity, witting or not, with trends that are working to erode that progress.

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