Thursday, August 25, 2016

Craig on defining atheism


Why fact and opinion is a false dilemma

Let me rant and rave a little bit about the “fact and opinion” exercises that are given to school children. (Here, I am operating in the tradition of C. S. Lewis, who in the Abolition of Man complained about the implied positivist philosophy that he thought to be smuggled into students’ English textbooks). This “fact and opinion” dichotomy strikes me as being intellectual rat poison. According to the school exercise, A fact is what can be proven true or false and can be true for everyone, an opinion is a personal feeling and is not necessarily true for everyone.

This seems, pretty clearly, to commit the fallacy of the false dilemma. There can be a fact of the matter as to whether something is true or false, without our being able to prove it true or false. There can be a “fact of the matter” about something, and at the same time there can be more or less reasonable opinions about it. In fact, the most reasonable opinion about something may turn out to be false, nevertheless it is the most reasonable opinion. Consider Jack the Ripper. There are a lot of opinions about what Jack the Ripper was, but there is also a fact as to who committed those murders. Is opinion a) something purely subjective, or b) something about which there is a truth, but uncertainty amongst human beings as to what the truth is? I frequently use that term of b, but very often people mean a. This gets really difficult when I ask students to write papers and want me to give me their reflective opinions, supported by argument. If he fact-opinion dichotomy is exhaustive, then I am asking for an impossibility.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Baseball and sharing your religious beliefs online

Yes, these two are related, according to Warner Wallace.

"If you’ve ever interacted with hostile atheists online, you’ve probably been frustrated at times and wondered if your efforts were worthwhile at all. At times like this I try to remind myself of the three reasons anyone “shuns” a truth claim; many of us are committed to our position for other than rational evidential reasons (that’s true for everyone, including Christians). It’s important to see your efforts to reach the opposed as a baseball game rather than a tennis match. The goal isn’t points, it’s advancing people around the bases. You’re not alone on the court, you’ve got help on the field. I’m not always trying to hit home runs with people who disagree with me. Instead, I am simply trying to be faithful to my Master, reflect his image, and leave people with something to think about."

The Last Post by Thomist Blogger Doug Benscoter

Who passed away last May at 30. Sad, I still remember when my good friend and Thomist Joe Sheffer passed away at 36, in 1989.  This is his argument.

Among other arguments I've defended in favor of classical theism, I have also defended a Thomistic modal argument inspired by Robert Maydole.  Let's first define two terms:

Something necessary is something that exists and cannot possibly-not exist.

Something contingent is something that possibly exists and possibly does not exist.  Contingency should not be conflated with "dependency."

Here is the argument:

1. Something presently exists. (Premise)
2. Something cannot come from nothing. (Premise)
3. Either everything that exists is contingent, or else there exists at least one necessary entity N. (Definition)
4. Necessarily, there was never a past time at which nothing existed. (From 1 and 2)
5. Possibly, there was a past time at which nothing contingent existed. (Premise)
6. Therefore, a necessary entity N exists. (From 4 and 5)

Consider this reductio ad absurdum (reduction to the absurd):

7. N does not exist. (Assumption)
8. Possibly, there was a past time at which nothing existed. (From 3, 5, and 7)
9. (8) contradicts (4).
10. Therefore, (7) is false. (From 8 and the law of non-contradiction)

Monday, August 22, 2016

A Video on The Ontological Argument

I have never thought well of the OA, and I remember writing a comment on an Ontological Argument paper called "How to be an atheist" outlining several rebuttals. Nonetheless, here. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Earth to Lawrence Krauss

From Manuel Alfonseca, here. 

Second: out of nothing one can create nothing.Nothing does not exist, as we know since the time of Parmenides. As usual, nothing is confused with the vacuum. A vacuum is not nothing, because it has several qualities (space, time, energy, existence) that nothing does not have.