Friday, July 27, 2012

Does Apologetics Only Reassure the Faithful?

A redated post from over 6 1/2 years ago.

I hear that over and over (and just saw it once again in a post by BeingItself). But apparently not. I got this letter a few weeks back from a recent convert to Christianity:


Dr. Reppert,

I recently got a copy of your C. S. Lewis's Dangerous Idea. I'm in the
middle of it, and I have found it to be quite good. I was very
impressed with a number of your responses to objections against the
Argument from Reason.

To get to the point, I recently converted to Christianity. I have been
a theist for about six months, after being an atheist for about five
years or so.

I suppose a bit of background would help. I gave up my Christianity
during high school and became an atheist. When I entered the
university, I was a biology major and spent most of my free time
reading books about evolutionary biology and cosmology--especially
Guth's inflationary cosmology.

It wasn't until about a year or so into my college education that I
discovered philosophy. I took my first class and fell in love. I've
always enjoyed philosophical topics, argumentation and the examination
of unquestioned assumptions.

That was about two years ago. I switched my major to philosophy and as
a result have delayed my graduation (I have about two years left). The
point is, that when I discovered philosophy, I concurrently discovered
Platinga, C. Stephen Evans, William Dembski, William Lane Craig, Gary
Habermas, Richard Swinburne, Robin Collins, Soren Kierkegaard, et al.

They were quite good at challenging my scientism(istic) and atheistic
faith. I began to question materialism, which I took to be better
confirmed than theism or humanism. Of course Swinburne's attack on
materialism in his book 'Is There a God?' was hard to swallow.

Of the course of about a year and a half, I began to lose faith in
science, materialism and atheism. And about six months I decided that
there were a number of very good reasons affirm theism as a much
better hypothesis than materialism.

It took a couple of trips of the Cathedral to realize all that
Christianity had to offer. That there were good reasons to believe in
the Gospels historical reliability and that Christianity seemed to
capture the essence of man (if he indeed possesses on) better than any
other.

As a result of this change, and resently getting a copy of your book
(which has helped change my mind as well), how would I go about
defending Christianity and theism? I have a number of very skeptical
friends, most of which are atheists. The work done in defense of
theism is especially good! But what about Christianity? It seems
persuasive to me, but as a theist, the probability of Jesus'
resurrection goes up (i.e. Stephen Davis). But it doesn't follow from
the proposition that theism raises the probability of Jesus'
resurrection that his resurrection isn't sufficiently high to the
naturalist! At least not without further argumentation. That is a
simple point of logic.

I suppose I am a bit overwhelmed. I do not know quite how to proceed.
I got a copy of a book by F. F. Bruce arguing for the gospel's
reliability. But that doesn't seem to be enough.

I know that philosophers have pretty much given up the idea of a
"knock-down" Cartesian-style system to PROVE beyond a shadow of a
doubt that Christian theism is true. But I don't know quite how to
defend Christian theism and show that it is a very reasonable and
powerful alternative to materialism/naturalism AND that it is superior
at least to some degree or other.

Please help! You're advice would be much appreciated.

Jimmy Licon
http://philosopher999.tripod.com/

71 comments:

Randy said...

"As a result of this change, and resently getting a copy of your book
(which has helped change my mind as well), how would I go about defending Christianity and theism?"



I am a little surprised that Jim needs help explaining his faith to others. If he were a person who'd been raised a Christian and took his faith for granted, I could better understand the reason for his call for help here.

Didn't he have good reasons for returning to theism? If so, I would think he'd only need to work on clearly presenting the very reasons that he found so persuasive.

Don Jr. said...

I am a little surprised that Jim needs help explaining his faith to others. . . . I would think he'd only need to work on clearly presenting the very reasons that he found so persuasive.

What's the difference again?

Would you be shocked that a math scholar read a book on how to teach (even one on how to teach math)? And what's up with parents—at least those who use to be children—reading books on how to explain things to children? That just doesn't make any sense.

Jimmy Licon said...

Not knowing quite how to defend Christian theism does not translate into lacking evidence or arguments.

Polishing, presentation, timing etc. also play an important role. (It's one thing to be convinced of something yourself, but quite another to convince others. This sort of subjectivity, at least associated with things like religious experience, doesn't not negate certainty, only the publicity of some of the reasons).

Additionally, I was asking about presenting the case for Christian theism to those who are convinced naturalists (and materialists). Background assumptions play an important role in the assessment of evidence for and against Christianty.

Randy said...

Jimmy,
I didn't mean to imply that you lacked reasons for your conversion. In fact I would assume that you thought you had very good reasons that brought about your change of heart. That you'd have many reasons ready to roll off your tongue.

As far as clearly presenting them, a course in communication might be helpful. If you wish to polish your presentation, you should find some good resources at the school you attend.

As to trying to address materialists or naturalists, I don't think you could do much better than actually listening or reading them and trying to understand better whhere they are coming from. Personally I think that is better than trying to pick up some of the standard arguments that others use. If you do take the latter approach, you are going to probably find that those materialists don't take you too seriously because it will appear to them that you don't even understand what they do believe.
Best of luck.

Jason said...

Randy: From Jim's testimony, one would also suppose he _had_ in fact read quite a few naturalists, materialists, etc.; and had understood them enough to convert to atheism for five years or so. (One might further suppose that this would still apply to the non-theist friends he made and still has.)

Jim: of course, Randy's advice is still good in principle. I'm assuming from your testimony that it already applies, but it would still be good not to forget it. {s}

Along that line, then, I suggest considering what your friends truly care about. I fully expect there are positive links between what they are willing to hold dear, and the One Who truly loves them. Are they, in this or that regard, following what light they _can_ see? Contemplate how this connects to the Light Who enlightens every one who is coming into the world (John 1:9), and help them to walk in that light. They're walking toward Him when they're doing that, whether they recognize it yet or not. So, do what you can to clear the path in front of them.

It may not seem a very fast way of working. But I think it's a _loving_ way of working. (And take heart, that it isn't all up to you. Ultimately, it's up to God. That's meant to be a re-assurance. {s} Trust Him to never stop working for your friends, even if you can't see what else to do for them yourself.)


Now, as to questions of specific _debate_--that's another thing. {g} But _NOT_ a more _important_ thing. I prefer to think of it more like fencing on a strip. It can be good exercise, especially for learning to judge fairly (including against one's self). But even though it's sometimes necessary, I don't expect a lot of progress from it. (Unless you're fortunate enough to find someone who cares more about fighting truly and well than 'winning' per se. That kind of person is rare to find in a debate, however; on any side, I'm afraid.)

I say this, being one of those fellows who _does_ happen to believe in such things as systematic proofs beyond (literally) any reasonable shadow of doubt. {g} (One of my constant criticisms of various types of systematic theology, is that it usually isn't very systematic. {wry s}) But, even though that's _my_ preferred way of going at the topic, I'm also good enough at what I do there to understand that trying to _make_ someone else believe by such a method amounts to a deadly sin on _my_ part.

This is more than just the ultra-doctrinaire saying that doctrine saves no one (though I'm saying that, too. {s!}) I would rightly be damned if I simply used a form of power to force a change of belief in someone. That isn't love. That's only a dark enchantment. I categorically refuse to treat the one whom I love the most in the world, that way. And, subsequently, it's constantly on my mind as a self-constraint, even when it may seem I'm acting in a purely dialectical mode.


I don't know how much help any of that may be, but I hope it will be of _some_ help somehow. You can email me, if you'd like, for some longer (and more particularized) discussions. (jasonpratt@compuserve.com. Hopefully, the spambots will be focusing higher on the page... {g})

Edward T. Babinski said...

Hi Jim,

I saw your intimate confession about becoming a Christian and seeking assistance, and thought I would add my two cents since Vic is kind enough to include even non-Christians to respond freely and openly at his blogsite.

I am a former conservative Evangelical Christian, editor of a book that Vic came into contact with a few years ago and emailed me about, Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists.

Today I would describe myself as an agnostic with theistic leanings who follows what Charles Williams (an Inkling pal of Lewis) called "the via negativa." I have Deistic hopes, no longer specifically Christian ones though I would admit that Christian symbolism and mythopoetic metaphors may be found in all religions (Alan Watts wrote some great books on that topic when he was an Anglican minister), and I admit the limitations of my knowledge about things unseen and not experienced. I also do not deny myself meditation, Zen koans, Taoistic wisdom, and plain old personal prayer. (Nor friendship, music, reading widely, and sometimes splaying my opinions all over Vic's nice clean blog site.)

I also have a webpage in which I reply to Lewis's and Vic's arguments, raising more questions than the so-called definitive answers that Lewis and Vic attempt to provide. I'm convinced that philosophy is like faith, or rather it's the thing people use to justify or rationalize whatever their religious faith happens to be. Philosophy teaches the mind to be so flexible that all the Big questions in the end appear to have relatively easy answers for believers of all stripes:

CS Lewis and the Cardinal Difficulty of Naturalism
www.edwardtbabinski.us/creationism/lewis_naturalism.html

The "Brain and Mind" Question and Christian Theistic Philosophers
http://www.edwardtbabinski.us/brain_mind.html

Mark Twain questions the Intelligent Design Hypothesis
http://www.edwardtbabinski.us/creationism/twain_creationism.html

Why We Believe in a Designer (A long list of stomach-wrenching examples from cosmology and biology; much like Twain's piece only far longer)
http://www.edwardtbabinski.us/babinski/designer.html

The Not-So-Intelligent Designer (Or, The Divine Tinkerer Hypothesis); an hypothesis that explains matters as well as I.D., if not better.
http://www.edwardtbabinski.us/babinski/inerrancy.html

The Most Provocative Things Ever Said About The Way God "Designed" The Cosmos
http://www.edwardtbabinski.us/babinski/designed_cosmos.html

Platonicus Booknutticus said...

Bahnsen!!! Give him Bahnsen!!

Anonymous said...

Apologetics only reassure the faithful if the faithful are the only ones reading them. I will relate this: I grew up in a house were Christians were understood to be stodgy, ignorant, humorless, and hypocritical. This view was frequently reinforced by looking at the popular versions of the day. Worse, those spreading the Gospel assumed immediately that their victims could relate to people that dressed like Arabs and lived 2000+ years ago and a cliche theology fit for children. If I hadn't discovered C.S. Lewis I'd have continued to believe all Christians were idiots or worse. Lewis was an atheist and he originally had all the atheist's objections. So he related Christianity to me in 20th century terms with humor, insight, and a supreme BS free clarity. More importantly, he showed the religion had moral and philosophical weight and no matter how hopeless the adherents seemed, it could not be summarily dismissed. So in that sense apologetics are very effective.

Zach said...

Apologetics: the abortion clinic for intelligence.

cl said...

Wow, Zach, what an intelligent, sophisticated argument! You must be a real free thinker, a genuine genius!

BeingItself said...

Yeah, sometimes folks are converted.

But what occurs more often: a believer reads a bit of apologetics and feels reassured, or an atheist reads the same thing and is converted?

Apologetic arguments rarely persuade.

cl said...

Okay, I'll bite this time:

"Apologetic arguments rarely persuade."

Claims without evidence rarely persuade. I thought you were the rational one here? Yet, here you are, flingin' stuff around with no evidence. Interesting, to say the least.

Zach said...

cl I touched a nerve, but I am actually a Christian. I just am embarrassed to be on a tree that includes such a loathsome branch.

BenYachov said...

cl

Zack is just a troll ignore him.

B. Prokop said...

An interesting follow-on question would be, if apologetics are not a factor in conversion, then what is? And here I specifically rule out people "raised in the faith". What convinces a non-believer to come over (as many do), if not apologetics?

Couldn't Paul's preaching be considered apologetics? If so, then it was definitely a factor in the conversion of multitudes.

Victor Reppert said...

Apologetics for me, and I think for Lewis as well, goes something like this. I decide what I believe to be the case, and then I try to explain to others why I believe as I do. Most of us aren't satisfied to believe what we do for no reason, so we offer reasons. Of course, it may or not persuade others, but it can.

I was exposed to everything a secular education could throw at me, long enough to get my doctorate, and never did anything to shield my beliefs from honest inquiry. That doesn't mean I couldn't be wrong, but what on Earth could possibly be disreputable about my trying to explain this to others? Why is "apologetics" a dirty work?

Victor Reppert said...

Oops, a dirty word.

rank sophist said...

It's probably for the best that Zach's comment(s) be ignored. I don't think he's a troll--it seems more like he can't help himself.

BeingItself said...

Victor,

It's a dirty word because the field is lousy with obvious cranks like Lee Strobel, Josh McDowell, Ken Hamm, and Kent Hovind. That list could be much longer.

I don't think you are a crank. But if you adopt the label of apologist those are the dogs your lying with.

So I'm curious, were you an atheist prior to your study of C.S. Lewis? Were you persuaded by apologetics?

BeingItself said...

you're

Karl Grant said...

BI,

It's a dirty word because the field is lousy with obvious cranks like Lee Strobel, Josh McDowell, Ken Hamm, and Kent Hovind. That list could be much longer.

I don't think you are a crank. But if you adopt the label of apologist those are the dogs your lying with.


Nice, been a while (like three days) since I have seen an attempt at guilt by association. Gotta to love those logical fallacies. Let's see if I can do it too: Stalin, Mao Zedong and Pol Pot were all atheists. They were also mass murders who used atheism to justify their actions. Now I am not saying you want to commit mass murder BI but if you adopt the label of atheist those are the dogs you're lying with.

BeingItself said...

Karl,

You are confused.

I am not making a fallacious argument because I am not making an argument.

I simply answered honestly as to why the word carries such a negative connotation in some circles. Hope that helps.

Victor Reppert said...

Richard Dawkins is a defender of atheism. So was Madalyn Murray O'Hair. So is Jeff Lowder. So is Keith Parsons.

But the latter two suffer, whom I greatly respect, suffer no guilt by association because the first two are also atheists, and defenders of atheism, although I have far less respect for those two. At least not in my mind.

Yes, you can, in doing apologetics, get so caught up in what will persuade others that you forget to do an honest job and follow the argument where it leads. But you can do this whether your apologetics is for atheism or for theism.

Dan Lower said...

Zach, I'm not sure what you mean by that.

rank sophist said...

I am not making an argument.

There's a shocker.

Yes, you can, in doing apologetics, get so caught up in what will persuade others that you forget to do an honest job and follow the argument where it leads. But you can do this whether your apologetics is for atheism or for theism.

This is a good point. Sophistry is rife on both sides of the fence.

Jim S. said...

I became a Christian in my mid-late 20s by trying to refute Christianity. I accidentally argued myself into it, and was absolutely miserable for the first year or two. Not that I was happy beforehand.

For Jimmy I would point to an apologetics reading list I posted on my blog a couple of years ago.

http://agentintellect.blogspot.be/2009/04/apologetics-reading-list.html

B. Prokop said...

I for one cannot truthfully say apologetics ever played a crucial role in whether or not I was a Christian. I was raised Catholic, and in college I did "fall away", howerver, not to atheism, but rather to Protestantism. But that phase didn't last long. My good friend Joe Sheffer and I discussed the issues so thoroughly and (I really do believe) objectively, that I not only argued myself back into Catholicism, but brought Joe along with me (who had been raised in no particular religion).

I still enjoy a good intellectual argument (thus my following this website), and reading apologetic works fits right into that interest. And yes, the big atheist tracts are equally as apologetic on that side as Lewis or Chesterton are on the Christian side, if not more so.

But they aren't really an essential part of my "faith reading". For that, I much prefer works that are unabashedly and (pun intended) unapologetically Christian. (In other words, they're not defending the Faith, but rather building on it.) Good examples would be The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene or the Arthurian poetry of Charles Williams.

Karl Grant said...

BI

I am not making a fallacious argument because I am not making an argument.

Do you ever make an argument?

I simply answered honestly as to why the word carries such a negative connotation in some circles.

So does atheist for the same reasons. There isn't a whole lot of difference behavior-wise between the people you listed and people like Dawkins, Meyers, Coyne, etc... Yet, you have no problem identifying with them or citing their writings, so why should Dr. Reppert?

BeingItself said...

"Yes, you can, in doing apologetics, get so caught up in what will persuade others that you forget to do an honest job and follow the argument where it leads. But you can do this whether your apologetics is for atheism or for theism."

You have made my point better than me.

So so much of "apologetics" is on its face dishonest bullshitting. Because of this, when I hear that someone is a Christian Apologist, I automatically think "Oh great, another dishonest bullshitter. Another liar for Christ."

Of course this may be an unfair reaction on my part, but it is not a choice, just something that occurs in my brain based on past interactions with apologists.

I suspect that the same is the case for other atheists: they automatically presuppose any apologist will be a liar based on all the lying they have experienced with other apologists.

Here is an analogous experience I have had. I listen to a podcast called "The Bigfoot Show". These guys think that Bigfoot is probably real, but they are decent skeptics. But most of the show is about all the embarrassing horrible other Bigfoot apologetic shows and websites. They are so angry about it.

I would never call The Bigfoot Show an apologetic show, because they seem to just care about an honest search for the truth, rather than just the defense of a dogmatic belief.

It would be great if there was a Christian podcast or blog which focused on debunking bad apologetics.

(For cl, Ben, Crude, and other un-subtle reasoners: I am not saying that belief in Bigfoot is on all fours with belief in a god. That is not the relevant part of my analogy. The fact that I even have to say this is evidence for the low intellectual state of so much apologists.)

cl said...

BI,

... I am not making an argument.

Yeah, that's the chief complaint. You don't make arguments or contribute anything beyond snide little isms which reinforce the fact that you fancy yourself intellectually superior to those of us who don't share your views.

It's quite the bore. Your basically Paps without the occasional attempt to grapple (and much less verbose, thankfully).

BeingItself said...

cl,

Victor asked a question. I gave an answer. Not every conversation is an argument.

BeingItself said...

Karl,

Meyers, Coyne, and Dawkins care passionately about what is true. Sure, they make mistakes.

But folks like William Lane Craig, McDowell, Strobel, Hamm, and Hovind have made careers out of lying over and over and over.

The difference is stark.

cl said...

BI,

For cl, Ben, Crude, and other un-subtle reasoners: I am not saying that belief in Bigfoot is on all fours with belief in a god. That is not the relevant part of my analogy. The fact that I even have to say this is evidence for the low intellectual state of so much apologists.

Actually, it's not. The fact that you have to say that simply attests to your own arrogance. You think we're *SO* dense that you needed to explain that, when you really didn't. At least, not for my benefit. Coupled with your previous concession about your inability to judge on a case-by-case merit, it also attests to your lack of charity.

Don't lump me in with Yachov. Hell, don't even lump me in with Crude. In fact, you'd probably do best to stopping lumping people altogether. Then you could start thinking critically instead of relying on knee-jerk reactions of the same basic ilk as racial prejudice.

cl said...

BI,

Not every conversation is an argument.

I didn't say it was, nor did I imply that you were making an argument here.

Meyers, Coyne, and Dawkins care passionately about what is true. Sure, they make mistakes.

LOL! I don't spend much time reading Coyne, but WRT Meyers and Dawkins this is total BS. Especially Meyers. People who care about what's true will take the time to honestly engage dissent. Meyers doesn't do that. He mocks, calls names and censors intelligent dissent.

But folks like William Lane Craig, McDowell, Strobel, Hamm, and Hovind have made careers out of lying over and over and over.

Oh, so not only are you an intellectual chauvinist, but you're a libelous person, too? How pathetic, painting the Gnus as sincere seekers of truth while smearing the believers as liars—all without a shred of evidence for either claim.

Maybe you should try, you know... actually using the tools of reason you pay such lipservice to when you imply that we all lack them?

BeingItself said...

cl,

Are you familiar with the work of Hamm and Hovind?

BeingItself said...

cl,

I am familiar with you from your comments on Common Sense Atheism, where you developed a reputation for dishonesty and intentionally uncharitable readings of your opponents. So I have no problem lumping you in with the bottom feeders over here.

cl said...

BI,

Put up some evidence or shut your arrogant mouth. This stuff gets old.

As far as dishonesty goes, I challenge you to provide evidence of any dishonesty at CSA or anywhere else. As far as "uncharitiable" readings go, it's blogging. It's a difficult medium where we often lack important physical cues that would otherwise facilitate clarity. So, yeah, of course I've made the mistake of not understanding a comment in the way it was intended. We—meaning those of us who spend considerable time in comboxes—we all do this at some point or another.

But, whatever. I don't know why I'm even bothering since you're letting your lame prejudice "think" for you. Oh, by the way, if you had bothered to check me out at all instead of letting groupthink dictate your thoughts, you'd realize that I actually spend some time criticizing poor apologetic arguments on my own blog.

But hey, you're not interested in the truth. You're interested in exalting your own paltry worldview and perceived intellectual superiority over ours. I won't stoop to your level and call you a liar, but I will say that you are far from a critical thinker, BI. And you're a spreader of pernicious libel. In short, people like you are a threat to real critical thinking.

BeingItself said...

cl,

Great! I'll check out your blog.

cl said...

BI,

Nah you don't get off that easy, Mr. Rational. Put up *EVIDENCE* for your claims of dishonestly and lying, else retract them.

Great! I'll check out your blog.

IOW, here you are spreading cherrypicked gossip about how I'm dishonest, when you've never even checked out my blog or had one single engagement with me beyond your typical snide comments occasionally tossed in my direction. Yet, here you are spreading gossip like a high-school teenybopper. And we're supposed to believe *YOU'RE* the "rational critical thinker" while we're all just a bunch of deluded nutjobs. Simply amazing.

I don't know if you're a troll—I generally refrain from making such lame judgments because they require knowledge of intent—but I *DO* know that you either A) have no regard for true critical thinking, or B) actually hold critical thinking in high regard while failing miserably in its deployment.

Like I said, you're a threat to the healthy exchange of ideas. You spread malicious libel about other human beings, without any evidence whatsoever.

People like you enable witchhunts.

Sorry Victor, but BI crossed a line this time. To not stand up to crap like that is a sin, IMHO.

BeingItself said...

cl,

I said "you developed a reputation for dishonesty and intentionally uncharitable readings of your opponents"

That is a fact.

Your reputation is discussed in this thread:

http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=14230

As I recall, Luke ended up ignoring you as well due to your poor behavior. But, I might be wrong about that. I'm not going to read through thousands of comments.

rank sophist said...

But folks like William Lane Craig, McDowell, Strobel, Hamm, and Hovind have made careers out of lying over and over and over.

Craig? Is this a joke? Where's the evidence for your (false) claim, BI?

BeingItself said...

Rank,

Hallq has done a good job compiling Craig's dishonesty over on is blog.

BeingItself said...

Others also have done a good job of exposing the relentless intellectual dishonesty of Craig.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a50XrpoNElo

rank sophist said...

BI,

As far as I can tell, Hallq has never done a good job of anything on his blog. He avoids debates and goes straight for the ad hom, every time. When he's challenged (did this myself) to present a real argument, he backs down and handwaves. If you wouldn't mind linking to one of his posts on Craig, I might at least get a decent laugh out of his incompetence.

BeingItself said...

Rank,

Why would I do that? You have already made up your mind on the matter.

But there is this thing called google.

rank sophist said...

I found the series to which you're referring. Pretty funny.

Here’s one problem with using this [Kalam] as an argument for God: what if there’s an undiscovered exception to the laws of thermodynamics?

What if most unexplored planets are actually giant ostriches that feed on human souls?

But Craig’s own view involves postulating a massive exception to the laws of thermodynamics—namely God.

That which instates laws should also be subject to them? Where does that come in?

However, if you don’t care about the standards normally applied to scientific theories, it’s ridiculously easy to come up with a story about how the past could be infinite.

A stunning observation.

However, the fact that Craig never explicitly makes this claim is no excuse for rejecting other people’s views using one set of standards, and then refusing to apply those same standards to his own beliefs.

Why would anyone apply science to metaphysics? This isn't about a double-standard: Craig's argument merely relies on two different types of knowledge.

I won't hijack this combox with any more of Hallq's nonsense--but I think I'll go read some more of this series.

cl said...

BI,

Sorry, but linking off to Hallq or whoever else doesn't count as evidence. *YOU* made the claim that all these men were liars, *YOU* back it up. Unless of course you're content to take a "Hallq says it, I believe it" approach to truth. Funny thing is, you link in vain. I'd already read Hallq's "proofs" that Craig is lying, back when he wrote them, and all they prove is that Hallq has the very problem with charity you accuse me of.

I said "you developed a reputation for dishonesty and intentionally uncharitable readings of your opponents"

Now that's funny. Earlier, you criticized rank smarmily, saying "are you ever going to think for yourself?" And yet, here you are, not thinking for yourself, simply going on a smear campaign.

Point blank: put up your *EVIDENCE* that these men "make a career" out of lying, else retract the claims, else, else be exposed for being a purveyor of gossip and hearsay.

physphilmusic said...

Of course this may be an unfair reaction on my part, but it is not a choice, just something that occurs in my brain based on past interactions with apologists.

Based on what we see here in this very thread, it seems that there is a HUGE tendency for atheists to assume that a Christian interlocutor is being dishonest whenever they feel their arguments are not convincing. Looking at Hallq's accusations of dishonesty against Craig, I can't find where exactly it is that Craig commits dishonesty. Yeah, maybe Craig calls out an atheistic solution as not supported by evidence, while his own solution isn't supported either, but is that really dishonesty? That would be a rebuttal, not an exposing of dishonesty.

How can you know what goes inside a Christian apologist's mind? I don't think people like Lee Strobel are deliberately trying to be dishonest (i.e. they know the "truth" but are intentionally deceiving the masses) - it's more like they are just biased towards listening to people with like-minded views. That would be called ignorance, not dishonesty.

Intellectual dishonesty IN ACTION would be
RICHARD DAWKINS, who proudly declared that he would not debate or share a stage with Craig because of his views on genocide and infanticide, all the while he himself has spoken highly of Peter Singer's infanticide-permitting ethics. And not to mention that HE HAS shared a stage with Craig before. Now that's true intellectual dishonesty.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

I am not sure I agree with Hallq about Craig's alleged dishonesty. This thread is starting to motivate me to write a response to Hallq.

Karl Grant said...

BI,

Meyers, Coyne, and Dawkins care passionately about what is true. Sure, they make mistakes.

That's putting it mildly.

But folks like William Lane Craig, McDowell, Strobel, Hamm, and Hovind have made careers out of lying over and over and over.

First, why is Craig on here? I have yet to have seen any real dishonesty from him (and I have read Hallq's posts, not persuasive in the least). Two, these atheist propagandists do lie, sometimes quite frequently. For Meyers contact Thunderf00t. I am pretty sure he would be happy to give you an earful about his own experiences with Meyers' duplicity. Dawkins lost a debate to a Rabbi and then claimed said debate never took place:

Dawkins attacked me on his website and denied that he and I had ever debated. My office quickly posted the full footage of a two hour debate which took place on October 23, 1996, a debate which Dawkins actually lost after a vote taken by the students as to which side, science or religion, caused more students to change their minds.

I could go on for quite a while about little instances were the supreme atheist apologists have been caught red-handed in a lie. But somehow it wouldn't do much to change your mind.

BeingItself said...

I agree that Dawkins' shenanigans and lame excuse for not debating Craig are awful embarrassing.

cl said...

BI,

"I agree that Dawkins' shenanigans and lame excuse for not debating Craig are awful embarrassing."

Nice slithering attempt at damage control. Again, put up your *EVIDENCE* or retract your libel. Then, take notes from Jeff Lowder on how to be an atheist, think critically and maintain a friendly exchange of dissenting views.

May you repent of your witchhunt-enabling, irresponsible propaganda-spreading ways!

cl said...

All this diversion raises a point central to the OP: it seems that the atheist apologetics of Hallq, Dawkins, Meyers et al. only reassure the faithful. In fact, check their blogs, they're among the purest of echo chambers that exist. There's far more diversity of views and genuine intellectual engagement here than GroupThink Blogs (TM), er, I mean "free thought" blogs.

So, besides from providing examples which suggest it isn't true, we can pretty easily turn this criticism around on atheists (that apologetics only reassure the faithful).

Papalinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Papalinton said...

Jim Licon

"Of the course of about a year and a half, I began to lose faith in science, materialism and atheism. And about six months I decided that there were a number of very good reasons affirm theism as a much better hypothesis than materialism."

Should this be the basis on which you reverted back to superstition, then it seems you could hardly have left the supernatural fold in the first instance. Much of what you have written seems either to reflect a state of emotional confusion or is a disingenuous ploy. The reason I say this is because if, as you say, " ... there were a number of very good reasons affirm theism as a much better hypothesis than materialism", why would one be asking around now, post facto, what these good reasons are?

Others here have commented on this rather shaky rationale, despite the varying attempts at apologetical interpretations to harmonise this conflicting tale of piety [piety: a belief or point of view that is accepted with unthinking conventional reverence.] All References Library

Just as your tale has little basis in fact, be prepared for the perpetual merry-go-round that characterises christian Apologetics.

Good luck

cl said...

Paps will you can your pre-canned drivel and *READ* what he actually says? Look, bold mine:

As a result of this change, and resently getting a copy of your book (which has helped change my mind as well), how
would I go about defending Christianity and theism
? I have a number of very skeptical friends, most of which are
atheists. The work done in defense of theism is especially good! But what about Christianity? It seems persuasive to
me, but as a theist, the probability of Jesus' resurrection goes up (i.e. Stephen Davis). But it doesn't follow from
the proposition that theism raises the probability of Jesus' resurrection that his resurrection isn't sufficiently
high to the naturalist! At least not without further argumentation. That is a simple point of logic.

I suppose I am a bit overwhelmed. I do not know quite how to proceed. I got a copy of a book by F. F. Bruce arguing
for the gospel's reliability. But that doesn't seem to be enough.

I know that philosophers have pretty much given up the idea of a "knock-down" Cartesian-style system to PROVE beyond a
shadow of a doubt that Christian theism is true. But I don't know quite how to defend Christian theism and show that
it is a very reasonable and powerful alternative to materialism/naturalism AND that it is superior at least to some
degree or other.


IOW, Jim asked Vic's opinion of the best way to engage in persuasive argumentation. Jim isn't "asking around, post facto, what the good reasons for theism" are, as you disingenuously painted him to be. He even alluded to three of his reasons in the letter! Your "rationale" is either willful misrepresentation or sheer scholarly ineptitude on your behalf.

Papalinton said...

"Jim isn't "asking around, post facto, what the good reasons for theism" are, as you disingenuously painted him to be. He even alluded to three of his reasons in the letter! ".

So what you are saying is that the disconnect between " ... there were a number of very good reasons affirm theism as a much better hypothesis than materialism" and "But I don't know quite how to defend Christian theism and show that it is a very reasonable and powerful alternative to materialism/naturalism" is irrelevant. In other words, those very good reasons [whatever they are, he doesn't elaborate] that made him return to the fold are simply not the ones he would choose to defend the 'faith'. And I can understand that. I would be hard-pressed trying to defend immaterialism, superstition and unnaturalism.

Step away from scientifically-informed philosophy and the defense strategy becomes acutely problematic. It becomes .... christian theology, a subset of the broader genre of mythology.

Karl Grant said...

CL,

I thought the Paps Challenge was still on. Aren't we still supposed to ignore him?

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cl said...

Karl,

Well, the challenged started six weeks ago and I remember saying let's try it for two weeks. I know that I, personally, have now engaged Paps only twice in the past 6 months, but that's only because I think it's fair to be willing to give even the difficult-est of people another try sometimes. Hence, today. So far, it's going decent, we'll see what happens.

Paps,

In other words, those very good reasons [whatever they are, he doesn't elaborate] that made him return to the fold are simply not the ones he would choose to defend the 'faith'.

No. In other words, those good reasons—some of which he alluded to, for example that general theism raises the probability of the Resurrection or whatnot—those are the ones he *WOULD* use, and he is just asking Victor's opinion of the best way to present said reasons into a persuasive meta-argument.

cl said...

Okay, major typos... the *CHALLENGE* started six weeks ago, and I know that I've only engaged Paps on two separate occasions over the past *SIX WEEKS*.

Papalinton said...

"CL,
I thought the Paps Challenge was still on. Aren't we still supposed to ignore him?"


Only for a couple of weeks. Be reasonable Karl.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

I've decided to formally assess Chris Hallquist's allegations of dishonesty by William Lane Craig on my blog. My first post is a summary of the allegations and is available here. I've posted links to this page on Hallquist's blog and asked him to review my summary for accuracy. Once I've received his input (and made any needed corrections), I will then write one or more follow-up posts regarding his allegations.

BeingItself said...

The best argument for the existence of God:

http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m6trl74Tl41qkudh7o1_1280.jpg

Crude said...

Karl,

I thought the Paps Challenge was still on. Aren't we still supposed to ignore him?

I can't speak for cl, but for myself the challenge is still on. Really, I think we've all given this guy months. Has anyone ever, even once, been impressed by an insight from him? Hell, has anyone ever seen him both quote something and *understand* what he himself was quoting, especially when the subject was on philosophy or science?

The internet is filled to the brim with people whose ideas you can pick apart, or people who are ready and willing to engage you on topics. Why waste your time with a buffoon? If you're thinking "Well someone has to answer him!", trust me - not necessary. His mental limitations are very, very evident.

That's my vote, anyway.

cl said...

For me the challenge is back on, probably permanently. Although, this doesn't mean I won't comment to contest the egregious distortions of fact that tend to accompany Paps' post.

I gave him a chance here to see if he could, you know... just have a dang conversation. It appears I was wrong.

B. Prokop said...

I'm in agreement here, too. I fell off the wagon the last coupla days, but now I can't figure out why. He's got nothing worth a second of my time. Not once, not one single time, have I ever seen a coherent thought expressed in any of his posts. Trying to engage him in serious discussion is like banging your head against the wall.

And that's a darn shame, 'cause if it weren't for his utterly inane comments and his wearying repetitiveness, he seems like he might actually be a decent fellow (except for his utterly inexcusable and totally disgusting approval of that demonstrator with a video camera disrupting Mass).

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

I've decided to formally assess Chris Hallquist's allegations of dishonesty by William Lane Craig on my blog. My first post is a summary of the allegations and is available here. I've posted links to this page on Hallquist's blog and asked him to review my summary for accuracy. Once I've received his input (and made any needed corrections), I will then write one or more follow-up posts regarding his allegations.

I've just posted the results of my review here:

http://secularoutpost.infidels.org/2012/07/chris-hallquist-vs-william-lane-craig_30.html

I've found Craig "not guilty" on all counts.

Crude said...

Jeff,

"The Cosmological Argument, which in its simplest form states that since everything must have a cause the universe must have a cause--namely, God--doesn't stay simple for long" (p. 242, italics mine). The phrase "in its simplest form" indicates that Dennett is at least aware of multiple versions of the cosmological argument. And if "in its simplest form" means "in the form that is philosophically least sophisticated," then it seems highly plausible that Dennett did not have the kalam argument in mind when he was writing about the cosmological argument.

This seems like BS to me.

What "cosmological argument" begins with "everything must have a cause"? Even Hallquist is speculating that this is some version undergraduates are offering - but where did THEY get this argument from?

Again: fine, Dennett isn't saying that this is Kalam. My response is: then what argument is Dennett referring to? Because it seems an awful lot like "an argument that Dennett completely made up". This isn't the Leibniz cosmological argument. This isn't any of the Five Ways. This isn't Kalam. It's a joke argument with an obvious, immediate refutation.

So the real question is, was Dennett lying when he offered this up as an example of a cosmological argument? Because the alternative - Dennett wouldn't know a cosmological argument if it bit his ass - isn't all that encouraging.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

Crude

This seems like BS to me.

I'd like to request that we discuss specific aspects of the article at the webpage for the article. Could you please repost your entire comment over there?

Crude said...

Jeff,

Let me walk that back.

Your focus was not on Dennett. Your focus was on WLC. I agreed that yeah, Hallquist's list was a joke. You 'exonerated' Craig - fair enough.

I'm sniping at a particular issue which has practically nothing to do with your original topic, and which can be considered to be a product of loose language at best. My point is only this: the cosmological argument of "Everything that exists has a cause" is largely a strawman. It's not, to my knowledge, the name of an actual "argument". Even Hallquist credits it to anonymous imaginary undergraduates.

As for your request, I'll see - I could just waltz over and copy-paste this, but frankly it would be a derail of your thread, and I'm copping to it now. I stand by my claims, but I gave the impression that you were trying to defend Dennett somehow. That wasn't your focus at all.