Saturday, May 02, 2015

The truth will set you free, or will it destroy you?

Christianity promises that the truth will set you free, of course claiming that Christianity is the truth. Can atheists claim the same thing? Isn't it at least possible that, even on the assumption that atheism is true, the truth of atheism could destroy a person, or every person? I can easily imagine thinking both that atheism is true, and that I hope most people don't find out that it is. 

Atheism had nothing to do with it? That's not what they said: Wurmbrand's Tormentors and atheism

This is from Richard Wurmbrand's Tortured for Christ. 

The cruelty of atheism is hard to believe when man has no faith in the reward of good or the punishment of evil. There is no reason to be human. There is no restraint from the depths of evil which is in man. The Communist torturers often said, 'There is no God, no hereafter, no punishment for evil. We can do what we wish.' I have heard one torturer even say, 'I thank God, in whom I don't believe, that I have lived to this hour when I can express all the evil in my heart.' He expressed it in unbelievable brutality and torture inflected on prisoners.8

There are moral pits that Christians can fall into. Here is a Chesterton Father Brown story that describes one. But there is the "everything is permitted" moral pit that requires atheism. And it is a deep one. It is far from the case that atheists must fall into it. But I think it delusional to deny its existence, or to deny that it was partly responsible for the horrors that took place behind the iron curtain. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Atheism and Communism

This is the best attempt I have seen to argue for a disconnection between these, while using the history of religious violence against religion.

Without a doubt, the crimes of professed communist regimes were terrible. But it is important not to lose sight of what caused them. This is the first major misconception: that the communists attempted to understand the world through reason and science rather than faith, and that this was the error that caused the crimes they committed. Communism was categorically not a reason- or evidence-based view of the world. Quite the contrary, it was a dogmatic, anti-rational ideology every bit the equal of fundamentalist religion, where certain propositions were taken on faith and were not allowed to be debated or questioned. Although the communists congratulated themselves for their liberation from superstitious thinking, in reality they had not escaped dogma; they had merely transferred their dogmatic beliefs from the tenets of religion to an equally rigid and inflexible set of political beliefs.

Read more:

But doesn't this presuppose that if you remain evidence-based, you will always be able to persuade others. But what if you can't, and you think it's really important that people accept the results of you reasoning if they don't reason their way into it themselves. And you have the power of the sword in your hands.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Are all religious arguments a bad basis for laws?

It seems to me that the expression "religious argument" can mean one of two things. It can mean that the argument is based in its entirety on the specific teachings of a particular religion, such as the teaching of the Jehovah's Witnesses that blood transfusions are wrong, or of Catholics that birth control should not be used. These make bad laws, to be sure. But it could only imply that human beings have a purpose for their existence which is not of their own making. Would an argument that implied that "religious" in the negative sense and therefore an inadequate basis for law? This would be affirmed, it seems to me, by most any theistic religion, and rejected only by atheists or materialists (the doctrine that everything is matter). Is it necessary for a claim to be acceptable from the standpoint of materialism in order to be acceptable basis for law? 

Dawkins' TED talk that started New Atheism: the case for militant atheism in 2002


Monday, April 27, 2015

Crude on whether atheists are as moral as theists


One 'trick' I'm particularly tired of is this: "Atheists are just as moral as theists, so you theists better say this if you want any dialogue with atheists." Except A) Who wants dialogue with atheists, particularly New Atheists who are bound by politics more than anything? And B) On what grounds do I say atheists are as moral as theists? My stock reply is, oh, so atheists are typically against abortion, gay marriage, premarital sex, and other things I view as immoral? And that usually seems to shut down that move, if only for that particular moment. 

This raises an interesting issue-when you compare atheists and theists morally, how can this be done when the parties don't agree on what morality amounts to.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Catholic Encyclopedia on Fideism

As against these views, it must be noted that authority, even the authority of God, cannot be the supreme criterion of certitude, and an act of faith cannot be the primary form of knowledge. This authority, indeed, in order to be a motive of assent, must be previously acknowledged as being certainly valid; before we believe in a proposition as revealed by God, we must first know with certitude that God exists, that He reveals such and such a proposition, and that His teaching is worthy of assent, all of which questions can and must be ultimately decided only by an act of intellectual assent based on objective evidence. Thus, fideism not only denies intellectual knowledge, but logically ruins faith itself.

Saturday, April 25, 2015


I am going to have to ask two people, whose names I don't think I need to mention, to stop posting here. I do this with great reluctance. The reasons are two. One, I think your positions are better represented by other people who agree with you for the most part. Second, your contributions always make discussion more inflammatory than they need to be, and you don't bring out the best in the rest of us.

I love the idea of a "free speech zone" but you end up dominating the conversation here. And even when I want to address a position like yours, I think other representatives of your views better represent them.