A question for believers

In the Abrahamic religions.

How many of you became converted to your various beliefs after reading Anselm’s Ontological argument or were persuaded to the belief because of Paley’s teleological argument?

How do we make the jump from argument to the being of a god?

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proof for god

You can’t win with apologists. First, they had logical proofs for the existence of god(s). Once it was shown that while the arguments could be sound and valid, that was just one hurdle. It’s one thing to have an argument and another to come from that argument to reality.

The author of this post argues that the proof for god cannot be arrived at through logic but

offer an ostensive argument: Open your mind and reach out to the transcendent. You’ll find something supremely good. Call it what you like. But call it. It will answer your call.

and how do you arrive at this?

Through prayer or meditation, we can try to open our minds to a reality beyond our ordinary experience. And most of us find something there, a feeling of transcendence.

And I hope among the things we can point to include a bird trapped in a forest fire without a chance of escape, or a zebra dying of asphyxiation having been attacked by a lion or people trapped in a hurricane. But we all know this is not what they mean. They want us to think about butterflies, roses and a beautiful scenery.

The moral argument for the existence of god

In his book, The Arguments for god, John Hick writes

Let us consider the case-the admittedly extreme case – of the humanist who knowingly sacrifices his life for the sake of humanity as a whole. We are thus thinking of self-sacrifice on moral principle….
And the question I wish to pose is how such conscientious self sacrifice can be defended in humanist terms as rational or reasonable act?

And I will offer to argue that no such person exists, either among theists or non theists. I further suggest that the word self-sacrifice is a word that has no place in the dictionary. Additionally if a person wants to use this as an argument for the existence of a god, they should think again.

Theists misusing philosophy

Friends, let us be honest, almost everyone who is religious, became so following either reading scripture[few actually do read], being taught by their parents or pastors and very few if any through reading the philosophical arguments for the existence of god. All the apologists almost to a man, starting from Anselm, Aquinas, Augustine to present day Alvin Platinga and Craig have been religious and have called on philosophy to make their irrational beliefs look rational. This, I call an abuse of philosophy. It detracts real philosophers from dealing with more serious issues such as how to create a humanist morality, questions of good life and death and so on for we have to spend time to show the problems with their arguments. Those sophisticated theologians and apologists, who think that by studying Aquinas or Anselm or Platinga, their beliefs transform once and for all to be rational, no, they are still irrational albeit with sophistication.

Having said that, I believe strongly, that it is to abuse philosophy to support a religion or theological position. Maybe am presumptuous, but please tell me, how can engaging in philosophy help in supporting the resurrection story or walking on water, or feeding the hungry or cursing a fig tree out of season. Or better still, how does philosophy aid one in supporting a claim that Mo, if he lived, went to heaven on a winged horse, or that Moses by the use of a rod split the Red Sea and that men and women walked on the floor of the sea! And while at it, was the sea bed dry or muddy? Am patient, am waiting for a philosophy that is going to rescue such beliefs from irrationality!

Some theist may come here and tell me that oh, this argument is proof for god! What nonsense! I am not going to stop anyone from engaging in speculative reason, what we must always remember, is, it is speculative. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people have been able during the ages to formulate sound and logical arguments that one has to accept the conclusion from the premises. Some of these formulations though logically follow each other, have false premises in their structure and are this invalid and this is the fate of all the arguments for god.

The next problem one encounters in engaging these sophisticated theologians and apologists, is a problem of definitions. The character god is never defined, you can’t tell what god, if any, the theist is defending. The theist then accuses the atheist of attacking a caricature of his god, a Strawman of a god, a god which is so flexible, one is never sure what it means. I think, then, it is only fair for the theist to be forthright to declare which particular god he wants to defend, whether it is the god of scripture or the god of philosophers, a god that doesn’t have to exist and if it does, exists only in the minds of those philosophising! I ask further that this god, has to be internally coherent and not open to contradictions within  its definition. While at it, please remember saying that a god exists doesn’t make it so, two that existence doesn’t tell us anything about the nature of the said thing.

In conclusion, I contend here, that the likes of Platinga, Craig and their followers perverse philosophy when they hide behind it claiming it supports their beliefs, which at the core, are based on scripture and are irrational to say the least and delusional at best.

                                                                                                                             

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Philosophical discussions

Prayson has posted a quote from the writings of Hume on his blog, a post that has elicited quite a bit of comment but which I think do not respond directly to what he[Hume] was alluding to and it is my intention to try to address the question here briefly and invite further comments.

A little philosophy, says lord BACON, makes men atheistsA great deal reconciles them to religion. For men, being taught, by superstitious prejudices, to lay the stress on a wrong place; when that fails them, and they discover, by a little reflection, that the course of nature is regular and uniform, their whole faith totters, and falls to ruin. But being taught, by more reflection, that this very regularity and uniformity is the strongest proof of design and of a supreme intelligence, they return to that belief, which they had deserted; and they are now able to establish it on a firmer and more durable foundation.

– David Hume, (NHR 4:329, Hume’s emphasis)

Cited: Natural History of Religion, in The Philosophical Works,ed. T .H. Green and T. H. Grose, 4 vols. (Dannstadt, 1964)

This quote here alludes to the design argument for the proof for the existence of god. Unlike other arguments that attempt to show the existence of god can be proved with the aid of pure reason alone, such as the Ontological argument, this argument starts with alluding to experience, that is, that we observe in the world of experience things that display regularity, uniformity and an appearance of design and then shifts to the ontological argument in its conclusion that there must exist a supreme intelligence. This conclusion, however, doesn’t follow from the premises. All that can be granted to the proponent of this argument is that there could exist an architect for the order in the universe but as an argument for the existence of god it is insufficient.

As a general comment, I need to add that if the existence of god were provable, only one argument would have been sufficient. The fact that there exists so many arguments attempting to prove that a god exists goes to show that they have all been insufficient in the course they set for themselves.

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One of the comments on the post is irrelevant to say the least and commits a logical fallacy. He writes

You are on the loosing side. Atheists comprised an estimated 2.01% of the world population, according to The World Factbook in 2010. Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_atheism

The Christian share of the world’s population has stood at around 33% for the last hundred years, which says that one in three persons on earth are Christians.

Christianity, in one form or another, is the sole state religion of the following nations: Costa Rica (Roman Catholic), Denmark (Evangelical Lutheran), El Salvador (Roman Catholic), England (Anglican), Finland (Evangelical Lutheran & Orthodox), Georgia (Georgian Orthodox), Greece (Greek Orthodox), Iceland (Evangelical Lutheran), Liechtenstein (Roman Catholic), Malta (Roman Catholic), Monaco (Roman Catholic), and Vatican City (Roman Catholic). There are numerous other countries, such as Cyprus, which although do not have an established church, still give official recognition to a specific Christian denomination.

Western culture, throughout most of its history, has been nearly equivalent to Christian culture, and many of the population of the Western hemisphere could broadly be described as cultural Christians. Though Western culture contained several polytheistic religions during its early years under the Greek and Roman empires, as the centralized Roman power waned, the dominance of the Catholic Church was the only consistent force in Europe. Until the Age of Enlightenment, Christian culture was the predominant force in western civilization, guiding the course of philosophy, art, and science. Christian disciplines of the respective arts have subsequently developed into Christian philosophy, Christian art, etc..

I want to point out that we are not in competition with christianity or any world religion for numbers. It is the religious who need numbers in their congregations for various reasons, atheism only calls for you to be rational and whether you chose to do so is your business. It has been noted that rationality is not for everyone since there are people around the world whose only concern is how they will get the next meal and as such do not have the luxury to spend their time thinking about philosophy.

The second problem with this argument is that the author isn’t concerned with whether the claims of christianity are true but rather with the number of the adherents of his particular sect. I would like to tell him that a false belief doesn’t become true because it is held by many people. The only thing that the numbers show, is that a significant part of the human population have bought into the story of some Hebrew goat herders set in the Middle East. Nothing more.

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The same fellow lists two [he claims] there are ten facts that show that evolution is false.  Yours truly is not a biologist and as such will invite comments by those who are well versed on this subject. He writes

Scientific Fact No. 1 – Human Egg and Sperm Proves Evolution is Wrong

The evolutionist ignores the problem surrounding the human female egg and the male sperm in the evolutionary theory. The female egg contains the X-chromosome and the male sperm contains either an X-chromosome for the reproduction of a male or a Y-chromosome for the reproduction of a female. The female eggs all develop within the ovaries while she is a baby (fetus) within her mother’s womb. Evolutionists claim environmental factors cause small changes in the offspring in the evolutionary chain. However, the environmental experience of the female cannot change the chromosomes within her eggs and cannot have any effect upon her offspring. Her body cannot go into the eggs contained within her ovaries at her birth to make an intelligent change. Females cannot be a part of the evolutionary theory for these reasons.

I honestly don’t get what he is saying.

Scientific Fact No. 2 – Chromosome Count Proves Evolution is Wrong

There is no scientific evidence that a species can change the number of chromosomes within the DNA. The chromosome count within each species is fixed. This is the reason a male from one species cannot mate successfully with a female of another species. Man could not evolve from a monkey. Each species is locked into its chromosome count that cannot change. If an animal developed an extra chromosome or lost a chromosome because of some deformity, it could not successfully mate. The defect could not be passed along to the next generation. Evolving a new species is scientifically impossible. Evolutionists prove that getting a college education does not impart wisdom.

If I understand what he is saying, it appears to me, he believes he evolved from a monkey which I don’t think is what is taught in evolution. Last I checked the theory of evolution posits that we share a common ancestor with other primates. I would be interested in knowing if he means by scientifically impossible that it is not possible in nature over long period of time for changes to occur?

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Hume on religion

Theists, listen up!

Can one honestly say that he is convinced of the existence of a being whose nature is not known, who remains inaccessible to all our senses, and of whose qualities we are constantly assured that they are incomprehensible to us? In order to persuade me that a being exists, or can exist, he must begin by telling me what this being is; in order to make me believe the existence or the possibility of such a being, he must tell me things about him which are not contradictory, and which do not destroy one another; finally, in order to convince me fully of the existence of this being, he must tell me things about him which I can comprehend, and prove to me that it is
impossible that the being to whom he attributes these qualities does not exist.

A thing is impossible when it is composed of two ideas so antagonistic, that we can not think of them at the same time. Evidence can be relied on only when confirmed by the constant testimony of our senses, which alone give birth to ideas, and enable us to judge of their conformity or of their incompatibility. That which exists necessarily, is that of which the non−existence would imply contradiction. These principles, universally recognized, are at fault when the question of the existence of God is considered; what has been said of Him is either unintelligible or perfectly contradictory; and for this reason must appear impossible to every man of common sense.

Jean Meslier