Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Andy Bannister on Atheism

I’ve always been amazed, sometimes terrifyingly so, at how routinely, how matter-of-factly, how unquestioningly, persons who are otherwise demonstrably intelligent will gleefully repeat and deliberately spread misinformation. And yes, I’m sure I have many detractors who think similarly of me – though they may not grant that I’m at all intelligent! It’s as though societal norms were inherently stacked against facts, reason and evidence in favor of unexamined assumptions, false narratives and elaborate pretenses, all shielded from scrutiny in a way that would put a mother bear protecting her cubs to shame. What is this apparent gravitational pull that empowers deceit and dupery to draw adult minds like fresh droppings attract flies?

I’m sure readers here can think of dozens of examples of this frightening phenomenon right off the top of their heads, but the case in point I have in mind today comes from a short video I recently saw on YouTube. The video is titled Is atheism a belief? and I found the link to it on this entry of the same name posted by Steve Hays over on Triablogue.

Now by posting a link to the video, I can only suppose that Hays approves of its content, for he offers no criticisms or disclaimers in linking to it. And although it’s not surprising to find Christian apologetics blogs spreading propaganda, I’d like to think that Hays would have at least some regard for consistency given his own expressed understanding of what atheism is when he wrote "technically, atheism is just a statement of what an atheist doesn't believe rather than what he does believe" (see the comments section of this blog). (I went back and forth about this with one apologist late last year – see here for some of the juicier tidbits from that exchange as well as for a link to the full discussion.)
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Monday, May 08, 2017

Anderson on the Lowder-Turek Debate

James Anderson recently published his review of the Lowder-Turek Debate

Over the past several years I haven’t been watching a lot of these debates – maybe two or three a year, if that. I did watch the debate between Sye Ten Bruggencate and Matt Dillahunty earlier this year, and I did in fact draft up some thoughts on it that I wanted to share on my blog. My notes are still sitting on my hard drive waiting for me to revisit them. Maybe later I’ll get back to them.

Then I saw Anderson’s dust-up on the Lowder-Turek Debate. After reading Anderson’s review, I thought I’d like to watch the debate. At two hours and twenty-some minutes, that takes a chunk out of my day, so an investment like that better be worthwhile. So I watched it.
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Friday, April 28, 2017

Sye's Fixation with "Insane" People

I’ve been asked to comment on a common tactic used by Sye Ten Bruggencate and those who copy his apologetic strategies. (See the comments section here for the original request.) The tactic is an interrogative maneuver by which the apologist seeks to commandeer the conversation and steer it in a direction intended to lead to a ‘gotcha’ moment, its goal being to trip up the non-Christian rather than to actually validate the position which the apologist should be defending.

The tactic consists of the following formula:
Sye: Do you agree that there are insane people whose senses and reasoning are not valid?
Sye's oppoenent: Yes  
Sye: Then how do you know you're not one of those people?
The obvious goal of this tactic is to trap the opponent in a death spiral of his own making. But the success of this tactic clearly depends on accepting the premises embedded in the leading question, as the opponent’s answer demonstrates.
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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Incinerating Presuppositionalism: Year Twelve

We come now to that time of every year in which I honor the blog entries of the past year with a post listing each one out, beginning with last year’s anniversary posting.

Now, readers of my blog (all two of them!) have probably noticed that my posting activity has been slowing down over the past couple of years.

There are several reasons for this.
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Sunday, February 26, 2017

More on Hearing Voices in His Head

In this post, I pick up from my previous entry and explore Anderson’s appraisal of the objections that he considers in response to apologetic appeals to “internal testimony of the Holy Spirit.”

Before doing so, it may not be necessary to point this out, but I will in case it slips anyone’s mind, namely that appeals to “internal testimony of the Holy Spirit” as Christianity informs this notion logically assume the existence of the Christian god. So if this assumption is disputed, then appeals to the “internal testimony of the Holy Spirit” are premature at best. At any rate, it is viciously circular to appeal to “the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit” in an attempt to validate the claim that a god exists in the first place, for such an appeal assumes what’s needed to be validated in the first place. And as I have pointed out numerous times in the past, we have no alternative but to imagine any god one claims to believe in.

Even when it comes to apologetic arguments, we have no alternative but to imagine the god whose existence those arguments are intended to prove when we come to their conclusions.

For example, consider the following argument:
Premise 1: If the universe was created, then God must exist in order to have created it. Premise 2: The universe was created. Conclusion: Therefore, God must exist in order to have created it.
Here it should be clear that, even if we accept the premises that the universe was created and that a god must have created it, we have no alternative but to imagine said god when we arrive at this argument’s conclusion. The same problem afflicts all apologetic arguments, thus serving as a great equalizer of sorts in leveling all apologetic arguments to useless rubble.

So if apologists cannot overcome weaknesses such as this, then I submit that there’s no hope for any defensive artifice they may attempt to erect on behalf of their religious beliefs. This does not bode well for Anderson’s defense of the notion of enjoying “internal testimony of the Holy Spirit,” for while I can in fact imagine that Anderson’s god exists and that he has in fact received revelatory transmissions from that god, I am nevertheless acutely aware of the facts that I am merely imagining these things and that I have no alternative to doing so if I am to contemplate his god-belief claims.
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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Hearing Voices in Your Head

Recently Christian apologist James Anderson published an article titled How Do You Know That the Bible Is God’s Word? in the Christian Research Journal. In it he defends a magical form of knowing known among Reformed Christians as “the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit.” This notion is essentially a safely lever which apologists can pull when their apologetic defenses are shown to be the fault-ridden vehicles they are, so it’s not unsurprising to find Anderson producing a defense of this notion, since it stands as a refuge in which apologists will inevitably need to seek shelter.

In setting up his case, Anderson makes reference to John 10:27, which inserts the words “My sheep hear my voice” in Jesus’ mouth. The idea here is that, if someone doesn’t believe (presumably on first hearing), then that person is to be dismissed as not numbering among “the Lord’s sheep.” Of course, none of this constitutes an argument; rather, such claims are asserted in place of an argument, much like a slogan or platitude, and has no more substance than “Four out of five dentists surveyed…”
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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Theism and Thumb-sucking

Steve Hays of Triablogue is fond of trying to turn secular criticisms of religion back on themselves. In the case of poorly considered criticisms, this can certainly be effective against the criticisms in question, or some questionable premise upon which they may rest. Of course, to suppose further that this somehow implies that any particular secular worldview is therefore invalid or untrue, or that religion is beyond criticism, is simply wishful thinking masquerading as a lofty conclusion. It is also amusing when such efforts backfire (e.g., see here).

In an entry posted in late November this year titled Outgrowing God, Hays tackles the view that theistic beliefs are a childish indulgence and therefore should be abandoned as one matures along with other childish occupations, such as bed-wetting, thumb-sucking, sulking when one does not get his way, pretending that Middle Earth really exists, etc.
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