Friday, February 14, 2014

Feser on the Courtier's Reply

Here.  It reminds me of the comments of Representative Earl Landgrebe, who, confronted with the evidence for Nixon's guilt during Watergate, said Don't confuse me with the facts. I've got a closed mind.” 

18 comments:

Samwell Barnes said...

"You will find similar howlers throughout the works of the other New Atheists. Their grasp of the chief arguments for the existence of God and related matters is, in short, comparable to the scientific acumen of the college sophomore who thinks the lesson of Einstein’s revolution in physics is that 'it’s all relative, man'"

I laughed out loud while reading this. Feser is a great communicator.

amorbis said...

Yeah, even though I vehemently disagree with Feser on a lot of important issues (mostly because he's a Thomist and I'm not), his writing style is amazing. Genuinely funny guy, and very good at explaining arguments.

planks length said...

HERE is a fascinating article that proposes that the scientismists and the fundamentalists are actually a symbiosis - they each need the other in order to exist and survive.

im-skeptical said...

planks,

While you sit there on your high horse looking down upon the "fundies" and the "gnus", don't imagine for a moment that you're any better.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

Feser writes:

. And one’s more gullible followers—people like the www.infidels.org faithful who have been buying up The God Delusion by the bushel basket—will be thrilled to have some new piece of smart-assery to fling at their religious friends in lieu of a serious argument.

Feser obviously doesn't read much on the Secular Outpost (secularoutpost.infidels.org) or he'd be know better than to make such a ridiculous and patently false insult. We've been plenty critical of the new atheists.

Victor Reppert said...

I think Bill Vallicella made much the same mistake, in thinking that infidels.org is in the same camp as the new atheists.

im-skeptical said...

Victor,

I have yet to hear what qualifies a person as a "gnu". I have two theories: A gnu is an atheist who isn't trained in philosophy. A gnu is an atheist who is outspoken about what he believes. Any thoughts?

planks length said...

I'd say a person has to be both of those things to qualify as a gnu.

Victor Reppert said...

I think there are some characteristics that make an atheist more likely to be viewed as a gnu. But that seems to require a detailed post.

Martin said...

Mr Lowder,

Yes, Feser makes a blanket false statement about infidels; infidels runs the gamut: you guys have got Graham Oppy on there with academic articles (yay!), but also Dan Barker blabbing on about how the cosmological argument says "everything has a cause" (boo!). I once dug through the section on cosmological arguments, identified anyone who wrote that Aquinas thought the universe began to exist, dug up their email, and wrote them about it. Most did not respond.

So I think Feser just chose a poor example, as infidels is a mix.

Martin said...

I think a gnu is an atheist suffering from severe Dunning Kruger syndrome in philosophy of religion, thus exemplifying that old saying: the uninformed are cocksure, and the informed are full of doubt.

Gnu atheists are cocksure that the cosmological argument is a failure because it is guilty of some trivial logical error that somehow escaped the noticed of hundreds of philosophers (including opponents), but was noticed by them, the gnu atheist. Whenever I correct gnus on this, explaining such concepts as act and potency, they either A) shut up, or B) are pushed into absurdities such as having to believe that they cannot move their office chair across the floor. Their entire world begins falling apart. It was so damn comfortable and easy believing (falsely) that the cosmological argument fails for trivial reasons. Now they have to face the fact that it might not be that easy and they might actually have to do critical thinking for a change, something they are not used to.

planks length said...

What I personally mean when I call someone a gnu:

1. is an atheist

2. either does not give much (if any) weight to philosophical arguments, or does not regard them as relevant

3. believes "empirical evidence" is the one and only path to truth

4. is outspoken about his beliefs, to the point of going on the offensive (i.e., is an evangelist for atheism)

5. consciously engages in ridicule, name-calling, and argumentum ad populum in discussions with (or about) believers, or else approves of others doing so. Regards the above as acceptable tactics.

im-skeptical said...

planks,

Here is a definition of a certain kind of religions personality (perhaps we could call him a gnat):

1. is religious

2. either does not give much (if any) weight to empirical evidence, or does not regard science as relevant

3. believes "armchair reasoning" is the one and only path to truth

4. is outspoken about his beliefs, to the point of going on the offensive

5. consciously engages in ridicule, name-calling, and argumentum ad populum in discussions with (or about) atheists, or else approves of others doing so. Regards the above as acceptable tactics.

planks length said...

Do we know of anyone like this? Especially as regards points numbers 2 and 3? Remember that many, many truly great scientists, who have made most of the really critical advances in their fields, are Christians. See, for example, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

I seriously doubt that even one of these individuals, without whom your precious science would not even exist, would have agreed that "armchair reasoning is the one and only path to truth". What you've created, im-skeptical, is close to what we call a strawman.

Yes, both you and I can point to isolated nutcases who unfortunately fit your description, such as the totally embarrassing Ken Ham. But they are, thank God, the rare exception, and are roundly repudiated by the vast majority of believers.

On the other hand, the description of gnus that I provided actually fits people like Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, and Dennett (and many who comment to this website). In fact, I'd bet real money that they would proudly agree to and publicly flaunt the list. And unlike mainstream Christianity's repudiation of jokes like Ken Ham, these representatives of the New Atheists are nearly universally embraced by their fellow non-believers. (As evidence, I point out your very own inability to admit that John Loftus was embracing the "gaps" argument not so long ago, or your steadfast refusal to ever criticize Dawkins for anything.)

im-skeptical said...

"What you've created, im-skeptical, is close to what we call a strawman."

Ben comes to mind.

And speaking of straw men, your own description is just as wrong as you claim mine is. The truth is somewhere in the middle for the vast majority of us.

"As evidence, I point out your very own inability to admit that John Loftus was embracing the "gaps" argument not so long ago"

I still disagree with Loftus on that point, even though I gave up on the argument. (And I said as much at the time.)

planks length said...

im-skeptical,

Considering my inexcusable lapse of manners and judgement in a previous conversation, I am loathe to criticize a third party in my comment. But I will agree with you in a generic sense, that there is no justification no matter who engages in the tactic for one to gratuitously insult and ridicule their debating partner/opponent. Not only is it rude, it is counter-productive. If "Joe" were to simply respond to "Bill's" comments with sarcasm and ridicule, the probable result would be for Bill to double down on his position, regardless of the strength (if any) of Joe's arguments.

Samwell Barnes said...

"While you sit there on your high horse looking down upon the "fundies" and the "gnus", don't imagine for a moment that you're any better."

?

On the topics of God, philosophy, and religion, he is better, and demonstrably so. As am I. As is Dr. Reppert, Dr. Feser, Mr. Lowder, Martin, Crude, Dan, Ben, etc.

im-skeptical said...

Samwell,

Good for you. I'm glad to see that you are above having any kind of discussion with the likes of me.