Tuesday, August 05, 2014

I'm right, you're an idiot, so it's time to shut the discussion down

This is from James Lindsay, quoted on Loftus' blog. What do you say when someone wants to shut down the dialogue? 

It is very difficult to see the matter of theism as something to treat seriously as a philosophical object. We shouldn't. It is a theological object, and theology is only "pseudo-philosophical," as Carrier puts it, and pseudo-academic, as I outlined above. No one is required to take such a thing seriously or engage its "best" arguments, as if it has any, as if the real contenders haven't already been dealt with thoroughly and repeatedly, and as if any argument stands up to the simple and straightforward question that's been waiting for them all along: "Where's the evidence?"

But because the idea that we should engage any position's best case is generally true in philosophy proper, and all academic debate, it is an easy value to turn into a false virtue. The principle simply doesn't apply here because theology is pseudo-academic, though. Misapplying it as a false virtue, a moral value defining a particular kind of thinker, I think, is exactly what apologists for the philosophy of religion are doing, and I think it constitutes a confusing and unproductive avenue in the conversation that should not continueLINK.

24 comments:

B. Prokop said...

When dealing with such as this, the best advice comes from Our Lord Himself.
Here:

"Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under foot and turn to attack you."
(Matthew 7:6)

And here:

"And if any place will not receive you and they refuse to hear you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet for a testimony against them."
(Mark 6:11)

Keith Rozumalski said...

I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that dealing with atheist fundamentalists like James Linsay is a waste of one's time. I have had several fruitless dialogues with Lindsay on his blog, and have realized that he is not capable of engaging in real discussions with theists. In his mind, Dawkins and Loftus have destroyed all of the best theistic arguments. Just the mere possibility that the universe has eternally existed as a brute fact is enough to show that the cosmological arguments have supposedly been refuted.

The problem with atheist fundamentalists,like Linday, is that they've stopped thinking a long time ago. They're satisfied with stopping at the conclusion that gods don't exist because there's no evidence for them(whatever that means). They don't even bother to develop a comprehensive atheistic worldview. Their worldview is basically all theists are deluded.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

Or better yet, please let James Lindsay know who originated philosophy in the first place--The Doric Greeks. They invented it. Philosophy was invented by God-believers.

I give you: The Case of the Barefoot Socrates that proves beyond a shadow of doubt that the Spartans are the home of Greek philosophy and they were all pious individuals. The whole nation was.

I like how atheists are trying to steal philosophy from god-believers. Just tell him the true origins of philosophy and that it was connected to the cult of Apollo!

Miloš said...

It is quite strange (for me at least) why some atheist interested in philosophy don't read leading sceptic writers, like Mackie, Gale, Sobel, Oppy, to name just a few and why they waste their time to less valuable writings of Dawkins and company. Idea that some discussion in philosophy is finished is at least bad informed.

Aragorn said...

Agreed @Milos. Particularly, when there's wide access to philosophical articles and books for free.

Victor Reppert said...

I think that at the back of this is the desire for absolute certainty. If you are in the intellectual community, living as a Christian means living with doubts and uncertainties. I don't mean worrisome doubts necessarily, but you can't make the people who say you are mistaken go away. "God said it, I believe it, that settles it" is something intellectuals are going to have trouble saying. But Dawkins says he offers near-certainty (which is what someone in science has to say), and that is the closest anyone in the intellectual community is going to get. All the "evidence" is on our side, all the "motives" are on the other side, so that's as close to settling it as anything can be.

Gnus can't imagine in their wildest dreams that they're anti-intellectual. But that is exactly what they are.

unkleE said...

A few years ago, Luke Muehlhauser's blog, Commonsense Atheism was a place of thoughtful (mostly) discussion of atheism vs theism. Then Luke surprisingly announced that he was done with that, he wasn't interested in arguing about matters he regarded as resolved, and he left to pursue interests in artificial intelligence and other things.

From my discussions with him, Luke was fairly thoughtful, courteous and willing to discuss in an open-minded way. His decision to walk away when he felt the topic was exhausted seemed the right one.

So I wonder whether atheists who feel theism isn't worth discussing will do the same? If the subject is exhausted, why say anything? Or will they continue on the basis that so much futile theistic thinking needs to be rebutted? In which case, the conversation will be very one-sided - or no-sided if we christians are as obdurate as they say we are and as they claim they themselves are.

I agree with B Prokop. I have given up visiting a number of blogs and forums I used to comment on for that reason - I would prefer to discuss with people who want to discuss with me, not talk to a brick wall who thinks I'm a brick wall.

Papalinton said...

By the commentary in this thread, Dr James Lindsay seems to have hit a nerve. Not unexpected when one understands the antithesis against which he is commenting, supernatural superstition.

Dr Lindsay adds a fresh perspective to the conversation. Simply because theists might not like his message does not compromise the import of that message. Indeed Dr David Eller makes a useful aphoristic observation of the interplay between supernatural superstition that undergirds theism and the role of atheism in contemporary society. He says, there are those who insist atheism is negative, because it is against theism. Atheism they say, is not for anything, but just against something. If that were true, then anti-smoking campaigns are negative, because they are against smoking. But anti-smoking campaigns are not just against smoking; they are in favour of health. True, if there were no smoking, there would be no anti-smoking movement. But then everyone would be a non-smoker. If there were no theism, there would be no atheism movement - but then everyone would be an atheist.

Bob, Buybull quotes are ...... so trite, so gauche.

Victor, it's not about a desire for certainty, it's about a desire for credibility, a credible knowledge source. Theo-nonsense and apologetical philosophy simply doesn't resonate any more.

Keith: " ... develop a comprehensive atheistic worldview". Love it. Pulled straight from the logic circuits in your nether regions.

unkleE, " .. not talk to a brick wall who thinks I'm a brick wall" Pot, kettle, black. :o)

BenYachov said...

These words look like something an idiot who was afraid to argue would say.

Someone clearly insecure about his view point that he shuts down discussion rather then prove the superiority of his view point in the realm of rational discussion.

This isn't any type of Philosophy. This is mere cowardice.

But then agains when one considers how Atheists of the Gnu type know little or nothing about philosophy it is clearly a defensive measure to keep them from getting their butts kicked hard.

Like what happens to many of the usual suspects here on a regular basis.;D

Benjamin Thompson said...

Well his statements sure sound more self-assuring then they do triumphant. I have no interest in trying to prove to people who believe like Lindsay that my beliefs are worth taking seriously. Such efforts are about as fruitful as trying to dig yourself out of a hole. The very nature of Lindsay’s attitude is that he will not take anything said in defense of religion or theism seriously. If this is true, then what obligation do I have to take Lindsay seriously?

grodrigues said...

@Ben Yachov:

"These words look like something an idiot who was afraid to argue would say."

I already had a couple of exchanges with Mr. Lindsay. To get a more correct appraisal, delete everything in your sentence but the first two words and "an idiot", replace "these" with "The" and insert an "of".

Legion of Logic said...

"By the commentary in this thread, Dr James Lindsay seems to have hit a nerve."

Hit a nerve, or provided fodder to mock? The latter, certainly.

"Dr Lindsay adds a fresh perspective to the conversation."

No, he says the exact same crap that has been making Christians roll their eyes for a very long time now.

"If that were true, then anti-smoking campaigns are negative, because they are against smoking. But anti-smoking campaigns are not just against smoking; they are in favour of health."

Smoking is proven to be an extremely unhealthy habit. So what exactly are atheists for? Take away their ideological hatred for religion, and their mindless commitment to blaming religion for everything, and there is simply nothing left. Antitheists have nothing positive to offer society.

"it's not about a desire for certainty, it's about a desire for credibility, a credible knowledge source."

How about actually finding one before attacking others? Science provides nowhere near the amount of answers you guys seem to think it does.

"Love it. Pulled straight from the logic circuits in your nether regions."

After a decade of talking with atheists, I personally have never seen an atheistic worldview that isn't built on faith, assumptions, bad logic, and ignoring the implications of their own beliefs. I suppose it is theoretically possible for there to be a comprehensive atheistic worldview, but thus far, the absence of evidence seems to indicate evidence of absence.

Ilíon said...

If the subject is God or "religion" (and frequently anything perceived by the 'atheist' or 'agnostic' as even touching upon those), then it is *impossible* to have a real discussion with anyone who does not acknowledge that God is. And it is impossible because such people are intellectually dishonest.

One can be honestly mistaken whether Jesus *is* the Christ; one can be honestly mistaken whether Jesus the Christ *is* the Creator. But, no one can be honestly mistaken whether there is a Creator.

Ilíon said...

So, given that 'atheists' and 'agnostics' *are* intellectually dishonest over precisely the matter of (the supposed) argument, why in the world would anyone care to have a pseudo-discussion with any of them?

Further, why would one be surprised, much less upset, that some 'atheists' want to "shut down the discussion". Of course they want to marginalize and silence "the enemy", for they certainy can't compete "in the marketplace of ideas" like honest men.

Until a person acknowledges that God is, he has nothing to say on the matter (nor much on any other matter).

B. Prokop said...

Ilion,

From your last two comments, it would appear that you and Lindsay agree on at least one thing, in that neither of you believes dialog is possible between believers and atheists.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

One can be honestly mistaken whether Jesus *is* the Christ; one can be honestly mistaken whether Jesus the Christ *is* the Creator. But, no one can be honestly mistaken whether there is a Creator.

So if Linday's position can be summarized as "I'm right, you're an idiot," yours would be, "I'm right, you're a liar." Correct?

If that is truly your position, then I can't think of why any atheist would want to dialogue with you.

Ilíon said...

B.Protestin.too.much: "From your last two comments, it would appear that you and Lindsay agree on at least one thing, in that neither of you believes dialog is possible between believers and atheists."

"What fellowship has darkness with light?"

*All* God-deniers are intellectually dishonest with respect to their God-denial. Thus, it is as logically impossible to have a "dialogue" with atheists about God, or "religion", as it is to have one with you over any of the things you choose to be intellectually dishonest about, such as socialized medicine ... for you *will not* acknowledge any of the unwlecome (to statists/leftists such as yourself) truths about it.

===========
JJL: "So if Linday's position can be summarized as "I'm right, you're an idiot," yours would be, "I'm right, you're a liar." Correct?"

It has nothing to do with me, nor with whether I am right. It has to do with the fact that you (plural, collective, inclusive) are intellectually dishonest, which is worse than mere lying.

My position is: "You're intellectually dishonest. Correct that, and then we'll see whether you have anything worthwhile to say."


JJL: "If that is truly your position, then I can't think of why any atheist would want to dialogue with you."

I'm crushed: people who are worse than liars may not want to "dialogue" with me ... because I insist upon dropping the intellectual dishonesty first.

Victor Reppert said...

I would never say the things Ilion does. But I wish atheists would stop making his case for him.

Ilíon said...

VR: "I would never say the things Ilion does. But I wish atheists would stop making his case for him."

They can't help but confirm the truth of what I say. Even the "nice" ones who mostly keep their "yer stoopid" scorn under wraps have that scorn ... and it always slips out, sooner or later.

VR: "I would never say the things Ilion does."

Indeed. For you would rather lie to yourself about what a nice fellow that BDK, say, is compared to me ... nevermind that the self-deception requires that you constantly pretend that he wasn't constantly insulting "theists" in general, and insulting you yourself in particular. Hell, you'd rather have BDK and "Doctor" "Logic" as commenters than me.

VR: "But I wish atheists would stop making his case for him."

Is it really *my* case? I mean, I'm just bluntly fleshing out things Christ and Paul and Peter have said. And I'm just "following the evidence where it leads" of my own ... and *your* (and your readers') ... experiences of trying to discuss God and "religion" with God-deniers.

Charity (and reason) demands that we give those with whom we disagree the benefit of the doubt ... but for only so long as is reasonable. There does come a point where (supposed) charity is revealed as having been just intellectual dishonesty all along, for to *refuse* to see another's intellectual dishonesty for what it is is itself an exercise of intellectual dishonesty.

Papalinton said...

"I would never say the things Ilion does. But I wish atheists would stop making his case for him."

Quite droll, in a rather curious way.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

I would never say the things Ilion does. But I wish atheists would stop making his case for him.

I'm assuming this comment is in reference to: "But, no one can be honestly mistaken whether there is a Creator."

Your comment could mean:

(A) I would never say the things Ilion does because I disagree with those things; OR

(B) I would never say the things Ilion does because, while I secretly agree with him, I don't want to voice those beliefs of mine.

Which is it?

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularoutpost/2014/08/17/theistic-and-atheistic-conversion-killers/

Victor Reppert said...

I don't agree with what he says, and I surely don't think these statements can be proven. I suspect we are all a little intellectually dishonest in one way or another. What seems like intellectual dishonesty might simply be the effects of becoming an ideologue.

I think some people are so much in the grip of an ideology that they are almost incapable of thinking outside it.

Ilíon said...

^ Which *is* intellectual dishonesty. One doesn't simply become an intellectual slave to some ideology, one chooses to do so.

As I said before, you will perform any mental contortion to avoid acknowledging that certain persons really are intellectually dishonest concerning certain matters.

However, this tender solicitude does not extend to political conservatives. *Them* you have no trouble accusing of intellectual dishonesty and of many other impieties, even if you never use precisely the term ‘intellectual dishonesty’.