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.

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.
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).

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.

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?

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.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Prayer Wishes and Paranoia

Earlier this month over on Triablogue, Steve Hays posted an entry titled What do you do when no one is watching you? in which he tackles what he calls “the problem of unanswered prayer” with respect to a parable concerning a careless servant. (As exhibits, Hays quotes Mark 11:24, in which a promise that prayers will be answered is thrust into Jesus’ mouth, and a parable found in Matthew 24:45-51 - let this be a warning to all you servants out there!)

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

"I'll pray for you"

It’s not unusual for defenders of the Christian worldview to close a conversation with non-believers with the words, “I’ll pray for you.” I’ve heard this many times, and I’ve also seen it written in correspondence many times. Quite often this final adieu comes out as a last gasp signaling, not so much a defeat as surrender or even a sign of intellectual resignation, as if the believer had come to a dead end in his thinking. It may be nothing more than code for, “I don’t know what else to say,” which would embody a kernel of honesty.

At the same time, the believer parting with these words from a conversation which has proven evangelistically futile, may just be trying to get under the non-believer’s skin in an effort to rankle his nerves and drive home the point that, as a non-believer, he doesn’t have recourse to supernatural power, while presumably the believer does.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.