Monday, February 19, 2018

Responding to Cameron

Cameron from Capturing Christianity provided a response to my last post, and although it's taken me over a month to be able to write a response (work is rough), I felt Cameron deserved a reply.  While our exchange is certainly strong, I appreciate how civil things have been kept.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Are our Standards Too High for Apologetic Arugments?

Since I'm a contributor to the Real Atheology Facebook group (please give it a like if you haven't already!) I get to see when some other contributors post on apologetics or apologists Facebook posts.  I am generally loathe to reply using my personal Facebook account, so I try to avoid commenting.

Today however, I keep seeing a post pop into my feed and I decided to put a response on my blog to something that was annoyed me in all the wrong ways.

The post comes from the Capturing Christianity account, which I should say is run by quite a nice apologist named Cameron, who seems very sensible even if I think he's dead wrong on a number of topics.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Can testimony be the basis for a ‘properly basic belief?’

Christian apologist and theologian Randal Rauser has an idea regarding warranted Christian belief that I find particularly interesting, but ultimately wrong.  Randal’s idea is to take the Reformed Epistemology of Alvin Plantinga a little bit further, he wants to use testimony as a foundation for a properly basic belief in something like Christian theism.
This is something he has written on in his book with Justin Schieber “An Atheist and a Christian Walk into a Bar and a bit about on his blog. 
I should point out that Randal prefers using testimony as a basis for properly basic belief in Christianity compared to the traditional appeals to a Sensus Divinitatus, because he considers appealing to a SD to place the theist at a rhetorical disadvantage.
I think Randal’s intuition about being at a rhetorical disadvantage with the Sensus Divinitatus is correct. A mysterious Sensus Divinitatus providing justification for Christian belief in a pre-evidential way is going to sound outlandish to non-believers, and likely would come as a shock to many lay believers in the pews. It’s akin to saying that one’s “Jesus senses are tingling”

In short, I don’t think that this kind of appeal to testimony as a foundation for a properly basic belief in god is going to work.  I think if he is going to go this kind of Reformed Epistemology route, he’s going to have to appeal to a Sensus Divinitatus, ala Alvin Plantinga.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Necessary vs. Brute Facts in Cosmological Arguments

So I’m a bit late to the party, but I was recently able to listen to the debate between Sean Carroll and Luke Barnes on the Unbelievable podcast.  There’s been some hubbub on Randal’s blog about the rather fantastic episode, and I’d like to make a few points now that I’ve heard it myself.

A lot of the debate was on the ground regarding a naturalist explanation of the universe, assuming the universe (defined as the entirety of physical reality) has a beginning.  The two of them didn’t debate any merits of naturalistic explanations of an eternal universe.

The first bit of hubbub I’m referring to is when Randal accuses Sean of redefining god to not be necessary and to argue against his own definition of god as a non-necessary being.

I think part of this stems from confusion on Randal’s part of what Sean was saying. In his book, Sean argues that there are no necessarily existing beings, so this isn't an imposition of a new definition it's an argued conclusion.  Further, in the debate with Luke, Sean’s main point is that even on theism one has to accept brute facts.   It's this second point of contention that I really want to focus on here.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Problems Debating Catholic Arguments

In my Facebook feed I saw a suggested post about an upcoming Unbelievable podcast hosted by Justin Brierly that brought up a concern:

So the next episode will have Ed Feser and Arif Ahmed debating moderated by Justin Brierly - what is there to be concerned about? After all I think Justin is a fair host of a good show, I've got a high opinion of Arif, and I think Ed is one of the best defenders of Thomistic arguments for belief in a god.

Well the main problem is that debating the kinds of arguments Ed Feser has in his new book isn't really about debating the arguments themselves at all.  Much like Aquinas's famous "Five Ways" arguments, it's more about whether or not you accept the Thomistic/Neo-Aristotelian metaphysics that is assumed by the arguments - not the actual form of the arguments themselves.

So debating "two arguments" of the kind Feser espouses is kind of silly, the debate should be focused on his underlying metaphysic.  Far too often in debates with Thomists atheists go at the arguments without really focusing on the underlying metaphysic and so miss the mark. This lets Thomist defenders rightly point out how the atheists have got things all wrong.

Arif is a Cambridge philosopher and from what I've seen of his debates before, he a good one at that. My concern is whether or not the debate format itself will constrain him into a way that makes it hard to attack the core of what is wrong with the kind of arguments Ed is offering.

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Insidious Indoctrination in our Pledge of Allegence

When it comes to “movement atheism” there are a few things that I regarded as pet issues that the movement would collectively try to take some action on that I considered superficial or silly.

One of those things is the inclusion of “under god” in the pledge of allegiance here in the US.

Our original pledge went: 

"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
It was amended in 1954 to interject some religion into it because of the Red Scare of godless communism:
"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
Of course they also changed our national motto from “E pluribus unum” (Latin for out of many, one) to “In God We Trust”, which is now printed on our currency.

When movements to remove reference to the imaginary deity from our supposedly secular government pledge or currency failed, I didn’t consider it to be that big a deal. I mean, who really cared, there are bigger fish to fry.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Conservative Chrsitian Lies About Consent Based Sexual Ethics

Sometimes it’s staggering to me to see how misrepresented non-Christian moral codes are in Christian and rightwing media outlets.  

The latest example is by David French in the National Review in what’s now a right-wing trope that tries to use the Harvey Weinstein scandal to repudiate non-Christian moral codes when it comes to sexual behavior.

What’s worse is that French’s central premise is based entirely on his misrepresentation of consent based sexual ethics.