Of God and other manenos

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.

Ramsay 1925

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.

Howard Root.

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Right of reply

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

Atheists do not worry me as much as ‘believers’

The naturalists fairy tale! Which one?

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.

 

 

d’Holbach’s quotes

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.

And finally, those meta-physicists

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.”

Jean Meslier