Monday, August 18, 2014

They don't call it the cult of gnu for nothing

It's the atheist equivalent of television evangelists. Tuck in your love gift, as they used to say on TBN.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Thick and Clear Religions

A redated post.

From C. S. Lewis's essay "Christian Apologetics, " found in God in the Dock.

“I have sometimes told my audience that the only two things really worth considering are Christianity and Hinduism. (Islam is only the greatest of the Christian heresies, Buddhism only the greatest of the Hindu heresies. Real Paganism is dead. All that was best in Judaism and Platonism survives in Christianity.) There isn’t really, for an adult mind, this infinite variety of religions to consider. We may [reverently] divide religions, as we do soups, into ‘thick’ and ‘clear’. By Thick I mean those which have orgies and ecstasies and mysteries and local attachments: Africa is full of Thick religions. By Clear I mean those which are philosophical, ethical and universalizing: Stoicism, Buddhism, and the Ethical Church are Clear religions. Now if there is a true religion it must be both Thick and Clear: for the true God must have made both the child and the man, both the savage and the citizen, both the head and the belly. And the only two religions that fulfil this condition are Hinduism and Christianity. But Hinduism fulfils it imperfectly. The Clear religion of the Brahmin hermit in the jungle and the Thick religion of the neighbouring temple go on side by side. The Brahmin hermit doesn’t bother about the temple prostitution nor the worshipper in the temple about the hermit’s metaphysics. But Christianity really breaks down the middle wall of the partition. It takes a convert from central Africa and tells him to obey an enlightened universalist ethic: it takes a twentieth-century academic prig like me and tells me to go fasting to a Mystery, to drink the blood of the Lord. The savage convert has to be Clear: I have to be Thick. That is how one knows one has come to the real religion.”

A critique of scientism


Feser's Three Varieties of Atheism

1. Religious belief has no serious intellectual content at all.  It is and always has been little more than superstition, the arguments offered in its defense have always been feeble rationalizations, and its claims are easily refuted.

2. Religious belief does have serious intellectual content, has been developed in interesting and sophisticated ways by philosophers and theologians, and was defensible given the scientific and philosophical knowledge available to previous generations.  But advances in science and philosophy have now more or less decisively refuted it.  Though we can respect the intelligence of an Aquinas or a Maimonides, we can no longer take their views seriously as live options.

3. Religious belief is still intellectually defensible today, but not as defensible as atheism.  An intelligent and well-informed person could be persuaded by the arguments presented by the most sophisticated contemporary proponents of a religion, but the arguments of atheists are at the end of the day more plausible.

It seems to me that there is another division of atheists. There are those atheists, even if they think theism is irrational, they don't think we have a good reason to make a concerted effort to "win souls for atheism." I remember in the debates against Craig, both Douglas Jesseph and Keith Parsons said that they were, of course, not trying to convert anyone to atheism.

Now we have sites like this, which looks a heck of a lot like a Chick tract. And then there's this Loftus post. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Bertrand Russell on searching for causes

From the debate with Frederick Copleston: 

I think — there seems to me a certain unwarrantable extension here; a physicist looks for causes; that does not necessarily imply that there are causes everywhere. A man may look for gold without assuming that there is gold everywhere; if he finds gold, well and good, if he doesn’t he’s had bad luck. The same is true when the physicists look for causes. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The ending of my Infidels paper on miracles

If my foregoing discussion is correct, opponents of, say, the resurrection of Jesus cannot appeal to a general theory of probability to prove that anyone who accepts the resurrection is being irrational. It is also a consequence that different people can reasonably expected to have different credence functions with respect to Christian (and other) miracle claims. If you want to convince some people that Christ was resurrected, you have a much heavier burden of proof than you have in convincing others. It must be noted that there is no way, on the model I have presented, to show that everyone who denies the Resurrection is irrational, or engaged in bad faith. Of course, one can still believe that unbelievers disbelieve because of "sin" or "suppressing the truth," or what have you. But given the legitimate differences that can exist concerning the antecedent probability of the miraculous, I don't see how such charges can be defended. So the lesson here, I think, is that both apologetics and anti-apologetics should be engaged in persuasion, not coercion, and that the attempt to ground irrationality charges against one's opponents is a misguided enterprise.[22]


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Feser on some varieties of atheism

What makes someone a gnu? I think this explains it best. My way of describing the difference is the difference between someone who thinks that religious belief is something to debate, and someone who believers that religion must be dealt with via a culture war.


I'm in a rehab care facility, giving my repaired hip time to heal so I can put weight on my right leg again.

For purposes of the First Amendment, atheism is a religion

Here.  The "not collecting stamps" argument doesn't work here.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Against Ann Coulter

There is only one rebuttal to the claim that political conservatism is un-Christian, and that is to say that while Christian conservatives are as concerned about the less fortunate as liberals, this concern should be rightly expressed through private, as opposed to governmental, agency. Such governmental efforts invariably, the conservative says, do more harm than good and undermine freedom.

The above is an interesting, and debatable position.

Ann Coulter, however, criticizes private efforts to respond to the Ebola virus in Africa. This strikes me as hopelessly unbiblical.

A critique of The Last Superstition

Dan Gillson on Recalcitrant Skepticism

A recalcitrant skeptic demands evidence to stack the deck in favor of whatever it is that he is denying. There is never enough evidence to sway him. He knows this, so he asks for it to say that it either doesn't count or that it's not enough.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on what constitutes evidence