Most of us would agree that the objectivity of good was a thing we had settled and dismissed with the existence of God. Theology and absolute ethics are two famous subjects which we have realized have no real objects.
If the prospect of integrating faith and contemporary experiences is to be ultimately successful it must be sufficiently radical. And to be sufficiently radical it must get to the root concept of God. And to be sufficiently radical respecting the concept of God it must radically depart from the philosophical world-view which has given the traditional faith in God a cultural form which no longer serves well that faith.
Leslie Dewart, Catholic theologian
It is possible that in their time the Five Ways (Aquinas Proofs) were an exciting expression of the whole movement from the actual world to the reality of God… But there can be no doubt that they no longer express anything of the sort.
An idea that could be true or false; but morality has no interest in it.
The good news is am back and will be sharing photos of my holiday with you in a bit.
In the past two weeks, atheism or rather talk about atheism has dominated the airwaves and has got its way to the print media. One journalist responding to the atheist[s] commits a few errors in his attempt to tell the atheists to shut up. I am not responding on behalf of the person to whom his ire is directed but as a non believer.
It seems to me that the author is irked that atheists have an association. Why dehumanize us just because of our lack of belief? I can’t speak for Harry whether he knows the difference between a charlatan and an atheist. But one thing I know is an atheist is one who lacks a belief in the existence of god[s].
I don’t know what he means when he tells us
Atheism happens to be very serious business. Not believing in the Bible – or the Koran – does not qualify one as an atheist.
for I guess we all know or rather we know atheism is a lack of belief in gods. And that books so called sacred or divinely inspired/ authored are but works of men.
It is true
The average Class Five child has the capacity to doubt that life and the universe were created within six days through a series of daily omnipotent commands.
but am not sure how many do this given the extent of religiosity in this country. I guess because this author doubts the genesis story he assumes many do too which unfortunately is not the case.
Whereas I agree with him that
The implausibility of the Genesis story is a pedestrian base to ground one’s atheism on.
it is a good place to start. And so I wonder why our reviewer commits the No True Scotsman fallacy in the next line when he writes
It so happens that true atheists tend to be exceptionally brainy minds.
Could he qualify what he means by true atheists, maybe giving us a few examples.
His next statement betrays an ignorance about the group he seems to vilify by repeating the same line we read everywhere that
atheism is a highly developed belief system in itself
he goes on to tell us
It is a belief system that rejects a humanised and whimsical god
which anyone who knows what atheism is would know to be fallacious. Atheism is a lack of belief in the existence of any god[s]. The atheist contends that the evidence so far adduced, if any, in favour of the god hypothesis is deficient. So no, it is not a rejection of any gods, for that would mean acceding the existence of gods but rejecting them for whatever grounds a person may have.
I will not comment on his summary on Hawking’s book which I have somewhere in my to read list.
When he tells us further
An agnostic is a guy who doesn’t buy the idea of a biblical god, nor is he ready to get into atheistic cynicism. He is happy being somewhere in the middle. Actually, it is a very ordinary place to be and does not require extreme mental exertion.
we are convinced he hasn’t spent as much time to study what he chose to address. An agnostic holds that you can neither prove the existence nor non existence of god, whatever you define god to be. I will contend as regards the question of belief, that agnosticism is an untenable position.
Atheists are accused of calling religious people daft. The author writes, with derision
Incidentally, it is a mistake for wannabe atheists to imagine all religious believers are, by definition, daft.
This statement ignores a very important distinction that must be made. There are thousands of believers who are top in their respective fields. The question of their religious beliefs is the one area of their lives they haven’t examined as well as they have other areas of study. I wouldn’t call a religious person daft but it we must agree that is is unreasonable to belief there is an age where donkeys talked, snakes walked and virgins became pregnant from ghosts. It can be safely said such a person who believes these has abandoned reason. It has nothing to do with other areas of their lives.
The fact that there are religious believers with great minds as we are told here
Some of the best minds that go head-to-head against articulate atheists like Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins or the late Vanity Fair columnist Christopher Hitchens are scholars who believe in a religious, moral god.
fails to deal with the question of whether theism is true.
It is interesting that most critics of atheists always ask us to read a book. This charge, George Jacob Holyoake responded to in 1871 in a speech when he said
The right of private judgment, always in set terms conceded to us, means nothing, unless it leads to a new understanding as to the terms in which we are to be addressed, in the bible and the people, it is described as insolence to ignore Christianity. We do not understand this language. It would be insolence to a deity to ignore a message which we can recognize as coming from him, but it may rather imply reverence for god to reject the reports of many who speak in his name. Were we to require Christians read our books or think as we think, they would resent the requirement as impertinence and we have yet to learn that it is less impertinence when Christians make these demands of us. If Christians are under no obligation to hold our opinions, neither are we under obligation to hold theirs.
In concluding this response, I will quote d’Holdbach on theology. He wrote
There is a science which has for its object only incomprehensible things. Unlike all others, it occupies itself but with things unseen. Hobbes calls it “the kingdom of darkness.” In this land all obey laws opposed to those which men acknowledge in the world they inhabit. In this marvelous region light is but darkness, evidence becomes doubtful or false, the impossible becomes credible, reason is an unfaithful guide, and common sense changed into delirium. This science is named Theology, and this Theology is a continual insult to human reason.
Atheism is more than just not believing in religious teachings and a bonus article
How was the world made?
God said, ‘Let there be light and there was light’
How was god made?
Man said let there be a god, and there was one!
from Is Life worth living without immortality by M.M Mangasarian
Our resident apologist, whose main occupation, it seems to yours truly, is to misrepresent atheists and their arguments while at the same time claiming superiority of a christian world view. Those who have visited his site, by now know that he claims to love science, well when it seems to lend credence to his religious opinions and denigrate it as soon as it challenges the religious authority.
In this post, which I think he dedicates to Rusell, is a ruse to attack naturalism and its philosophical claims while at the same time purporting to show why such a view is false. We are told,
In this world we can now begin a little to understand things, and a little to master them by help of science, which has forced its way step by step against the Christian religion, against the churches, and against the opposition of all the old precepts.
which is true. It is through advancement of science and a scientific worldview that we have come to the conclusion that we are not descended from two ignoramuses, who had conversations with snakes and had the task to name all other animals apart from working so hard at populating the earth, that was lots of work for eve! Was she having twins? Just a thought 😛
It seems that it can’t be pointed out often enough that science and theology are different subjects.
But this we already know. Theology is the study of nothing ans science deals with what is knowable.
At least, the New Atheists seem to have so much confidence in the idea that science is theology (and metaphysics) that they feel no need to give any reason for the strange conclusion that science answers questions about God’s existence.
For all the crimes we could be guilty of, we are not guilty of thinking theology is science. Metaphysics that our apologists is parroting here presents no testable evidence. It is a word game where the person who can talk the most is sure to win and in this case, the apologist hopes to carry the day. Whenever the religious makes claims about god that are in the purview of science, of course science must have a say. If you don’t like it, don’t make claims that are testable using the scientific method!
But it’s not only theology of which such people are ignorant. Any real respect for history would at least acknowledge the facts of past as it actually occurred.
This is an outright lie, and he knows it. We know Cicero was a Roman leader, that Marcus Aurelius lived and wrote beautiful meditations, that the church was Inquisition, that much of the NT was agreed several centuries after the said events, that the OT was written over a long period of time and that Jesus is a myth from beginning to end. So what history don’t we know?
the earliest science was developed by Christians, and sponsored by the Church.
Did you read that? So Galileo was actually sponsored by the church when he was asked to recant? That Giodarno Bruno was sponsored by the church? You know this is why a great friend of mine calls these guys silly people, for this is being silly!
Almost no culture has believed that the universe would have regular patterns which could be observed by the kinds of experiments science uses as its stock and trade.
Let us grant him that theology makes observations of the universe. Could he list them, I know, you, my friends would want to know.
The west is so saturated in science that we never think to question this fact, and, therefore, never notice that most of us can offer no reason why reality would be this way.
If science involves observation, analysis and [experimenting] then there is no other way understanding reality. Don’t get me wrong, we can appreciate music and art without having to do experiments and I don’t mean to say we don’t learn from the humanities, no we do, but they also whenever applicable apply the scientific method.
Naturalists, for instance, can give no explanation as to why the universe should have this surprising consistency.
We can, but can the theologian do so? If the theologian doesn’t know about this world we inhabit, how could he know about a world only accessible to the dead?
David Hume famously pointed out that belief in science, as far as the naturalist can see, is based on a logical fallacy.
What fallacy please, do tell.
It was Christians, and other monotheists, who invested the effort in developing modern science because they held the conviction that a rational creator would make an ordered universe.
Seriously! And then we are told we don’t know history? Someone tell me the god of the Chinese, the Indians and all other men and women who didn’t believe in ghosts but helped to develop science?
For Russell to claim, four-hundred years after the fact, that the Christians who invented, supported, and sponsored science somehow have a less scientific worldview than those atheists who blindly trust this inexplicable Christian invention is simply astonishing.
For a blind man to call people with eyes blind is to me, rank madness! Those christians or god believers lived in a culture where the existence of god was taken as a given. However, great their contributions were, we can say, without fear, they were wrong to ascribe the workings of nature to ghosts, gods or phantoms, whatever your fancy! So what if they were christians. Our concern is the present crop of christians who only appreciate science when it cures them from funny ailments but denigrate it as soon as it shows a belief in god to be a delusion.
None of this precludes the idea that naturalists can be great scientists; the tools of science can be used by anyone. But to say that the success of science somehow refutes the belief that predicted it would work strikes me as deeply irrational thinking.
Is this statement strange? It shouldn’t be. We have always held that a believer in ghosts can be a good scientist so this apologist decides to use the statement in his favour.
I conclude by saying it is wrong and will be always wrong to believe anything based on insufficient evidence. And it is irrational to think belief in ghosts is rational.
Friends, in the next few posts, I will be sharing a few gems from Letters to Eugenia written by d’Holdbach where he refutes the doctrines/ dogmas of christianity, its foundations and the ideas of divinities. To start us off, I share this piece that appears to me to be a critique of theology, natural or otherwise.
Do not tell me that your understanding is too weak to sound the depths of theology. Do not tell me, in the language of our priests, that the truths of religion are mysteries that we must adopt without comprehending them, and that it is necessary to adore in silence.
Whatever is supernatural is unsuited to man, and whatever is beyond his comprehension ought not to occupy his attention. To adore what we are not able to know, is to adore nothing. To admit without examination every thing we are directed to admit, is to be basely and stupidly credulous. To say that religion is above reason, is to recognize the fact that it was not made for reasonable beings; it is to avow that those who teach it have no more ability to fathom its depths than ourselves; it is to confess that our reverend doctors do not themselves understand the marvels with which they daily entertain us.
By metaphysics, God is made a pure spirit, but has modern theology advanced one step further than the theology of the barbarians? They recognized a grand spirit as master of the world. The barbarians, like all ignorant men, attribute to spirits all the effects of which their inexperience prevents them from discovering the true causes. Ask a barbarian what causes your watch to move, he will answer, “a spirit!” Ask our philosophers what moves the universe, they will tell you “it is a spirit.”
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.
In the past, a few theist bloggers have been featured on this site for different reasons but mainly because they either censor comments they don’t like or engage in a hit and run game where they make outlandish claims about atheism and when these are questioned they don’t respond. Today I am introducing an apologist, Debilis, who I must say is not guilty of the above crimes and to her credit I must say she engages with anyone who comments on her posts.
She is being featured here, as you will notice when you visit her blog, because of her obsession with creating a caricature atheist whom she then argues against and obviously ends up showing that atheists generally and new atheists specifically are either dishonest, uneducated on Christianity and many other faults she can find.
Having read most of her posts, I think her greatest failing is a misunderstanding of atheists and atheism in general. Atheists are like every other human being, maybe a bit more rational, but victims to the same frailties and flaws attendant to members of our species. We are only united in lacking a belief in gods, that is it. Again to use Dawkins, Dennette, Harris, Ayaan Hirsi and the late Hitchens as a standard of measure of who atheists should be is simply ridiculous. It should interest her that the many books I have read on atheism are not written by the above group and that if she, as she claims to be, were intellectually honest she could look further than she has done. In several posts, she has offered response to Russell’s why am not a Christian and has used it as a launching pad for attacking New Atheists[whoever these are]. In her posts you will notice her vitriol is aimed at New Atheists though she doesn’t say where these group of atheists differ from old atheists.
She says this of atheists
The confidence and scorn with which they attack all religion is wildly out of proportion with the (lack of) evidence and logical rigor they provide as support for their claims.
and does not provide evidence to support the claim that we don’t provide evidence. On the discussion of whether god exists, the theist has failed to define a coherent god [ she believes in the god of classical theism; this will be addressed at the end of this post], having failed at the definitions they have failed to show evidence for this god[this is impossible without a coherent god], and lastly have failed to show that theism is true. The atheist [talking for myself and those I know] have to be confident because we know what we are talking about and can defend it. So she must indeed show where we fail or withdraw.
[…] a sense of loss when I think about the shallowness of the modern discussion on religion.
What shallowness is she referencing here? Who is being shallow? And how deep does she want us to get?
And the New Atheists, for all their sloppiness of thought, their commitment to rhetoric over rationality, and their refusal to understand the subject being discussed, have forced the Church to think.
Anytime a person in the church dares to think for themselves they end up quitting. As proof of this there is the Clergy project, an online group of former church ministers who no longer hold to supernatural beliefs. I have linked posts by Eric at Choice in dying, a former church pastor who writes mainly about the right to assisted dying but also on atheism. So to call atheists sloppy without providing proof is condescending to say the least and an insult to our [atheists] collective intelligence.
That is, a group of raging atheists calling Christians moronic, while using arguments that just a little study could overcome…
What arguments are these? Atheists have been classified as being second only to rapists, so don’t worry being called moronic at least they[atheists] can defend their use of invective against Christians and whilst saying this, I hardly meet atheists calling you moron.
They may well have set in motion events which will lead to theism being stereotyped as the intellectual position.
When this happens it will no longer be theism.
In order not to make this post longer, allow me to discuss the god of classical theism and its problems. I know this is the god she refers to her in her posts[ she told me].
The god of classical theism has the following qualities
- Absolute benevolence
The following five qualities can not coherently be held by one person/ being. Transcendence means out of time and space and omnipresence means he is everywhere all the time. So either this god is beyond time and space and impersonal and having no need to create the universe[immutable and self-sufficient] or he is everywhere all the time.
Can god do something that is logically impossible? Or better still can god create a stone he can’t lift. If he can’t do this, it rules out the omnipotence argument and all we then can say that of this god is that it can only do logically possible things which again it has failed to do e.g it is logically possible for an all-powerful god to prevent an earthquake, something this god has failed to do even once.
If god knows everything, that is the present, the past and the future, then he can’t change it. Whence then is the omnipotence? The three qualities, that is, omnipotence, omnibenevolence and omniscience can’t be coherently possessed by one individual.
As I said in the beginning of this post, the Christian apologist has their work clearly marked out;
- They have to define a coherent god
- show that such a god exists
As a continuation of yesterday’s post on what god would allow the suffering of a child and where I think the free will defense is insufficient in explaining why there is so much evil.
Is divine hiddenness a plausible explanation for why we have so much evil?