Sunday, October 23, 2016

Exchange with a Presuppositionalist

Over the past few weeks I’ve been engaged in an exchange with a presuppositionalist apologist over on the comments section of one his blog’s entries which dates from several years ago. He posts under the moniker ANNOYED PINOY (abbreviated as “AP” hereafter) and is a frequent visitor at Triablogue. The blog of his where we’ve been dialoguing (he’s apparently got several blogs) is called Miscellaneous Lane, and the specific entry where we have been dialoguing is: Definitions of Atheism (posted 4 Dec. 2013). I thought readers of this blog may find the exchange interesting, so I wanted to post a link to it.

Below are a few of the more notable highlights from our exchange.

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Sunday, September 11, 2016

Does One Need Evidence to Be an Atheist?

“[A]theism is just a statement of what an atheist doesn't believe rather than what he does believe” – Steve Hays
Over on Triablogue, Steve Hays posted an entry provocatively titled There’s no evidence for atheism. In it, he argues that atheists are essentially at a loss when it comes to producing a positive case for atheism, that the most they can do is raise objections to theism. One wonders if he has ever read George H. Smith’s book Atheism: The Case Against God. Of course, that raises the question of what constitutes a positive argument for a position. Then again, we should also not overlook the obvious fact that atheism is not a position to begin with; it is essentially a negation, a negation of theism. Sort of like a-Moonism: here “a-Moonist” would simply refer to someone who does not subscribe to the teachings of Sun Myung Moon. This does nothing to indicate which views to which an a-Moonist does subscribe. In fact, I’d wager that Steve Hays would consider himself an a-Moonist (in spite of Moonism’s Christian roots), just as I do given that I do not subscribe to the teachings of Sun Myung Moon.

So the question boils down to: Does one need a positive argument to support a negation of a belief system? Does one need evidence if he does not subscribe to a belief system? Do I need evidence to be an a-Moonist? If so, why?
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Sunday, August 07, 2016

Normativity and the Primacy of Existence

Ever-valiant defender of the faith James Anderson has posted a blog entry titled Atheism, Amoralism, and Arationalism. It’s more of the usual fare that we’ve all seen many times before, the same tired claim that atheism as such is philosophically self-destructive because of some imagined consequence it supposedly has for the basis of thought and virtue. Anderson just likes to use a lot of big words in order to make his version appear more beefy.

There’s a lot of material to chew on in Anderson’s piece, and I may interact more with his statements there in future installments on my own blog if I find myself so inclined. For the present entry, I will focus primarily on one of the several related issues Anderson raises, namely the idea of normativity.

Anderson produces a quote from Alvin Plantinga indicating that “normativity” – essentially a standard for “right and wrong” and “good and bad” – is incompatible with “metaphysical naturalism.” You see, metaphysical naturalism, says Plantinga, “has no room for normativity.” If this is true, that’s too bad for metaphysical naturalism.

But it’s certainly not the case in Objectivism. In fact, one could argue quite feasibly that normativity is implicit in every act of consciousness, even sensation and perception, given the primacy of existence. The primacy of existence is the proper orientation between consciousness and its objects, and below I will delve deeper into this. Ironically, in spite of Plantinga’s assertions, theism rejects the primacy of existence and consequently is incompatible with normativity.

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Friday, July 29, 2016

Prayer Wishes and Paranoia

Earlier this month over on Triablogue, Steve Hays posted an entry titled What do you do when no one is watching you? in which he tackles what he calls “the problem of unanswered prayer” with respect to a parable concerning a careless servant. (As exhibits, Hays quotes Mark 11:24, in which a promise that prayers will be answered is thrust into Jesus’ mouth, and a parable found in Matthew 24:45-51 - let this be a warning to all you servants out there!)

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

"I'll pray for you"

It’s not unusual for defenders of the Christian worldview to close a conversation with non-believers with the words, “I’ll pray for you.” I’ve heard this many times, and I’ve also seen it written in correspondence many times. Quite often this final adieu comes out as a last gasp signaling, not so much a defeat as surrender or even a sign of intellectual resignation, as if the believer had come to a dead end in his thinking. It may be nothing more than code for, “I don’t know what else to say,” which would embody a kernel of honesty.

At the same time, the believer parting with these words from a conversation which has proven evangelistically futile, may just be trying to get under the non-believer’s skin in an effort to rankle his nerves and drive home the point that, as a non-believer, he doesn’t have recourse to supernatural power, while presumably the believer does.

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Friday, May 20, 2016

Frame vs. Poythress on the Notion of ‘Chance’

As a matter of thoughtless routine, Christian apologists the internet over love to accuse non-believers of believing in “a chance universe.” Typically the drive-by apologists who repeat this charge don’t elaborate on the matter or explain what exactly they mean. But it’s clear they think this is in itself a most damning infraction inherent to “atheism” (as though atheism were a “worldview”).

But what do apologists mean by “chance” in such contexts? Well, I’ve not found any definitions for this radioactive term in any of my bibles. We could infer from the context of apologists’ own statements, but this leaves the burden of divining the meaning of what apologists intend to say too much on the shoulders of those who are trying to understand them. Can’t apologists make their own terms clear? Can’t they explain why the charge of “believing in a universe of chance” is really so dreadful?

To put it mildly, apologists give mixed signals on the matter.

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Sunday, April 17, 2016

The "Mistakes of Apostates"

Last fall over on Triablogue, Steve Hays posted yet another blog entry maligning the character of “apostates” – i.e., former adherents of the Christian worldview. I suggest that everyone read Hays’ blog entry before reading what I have to say in response to it. Even more, as an exercise in critical thinking, form your own response to what Hays has to say before reading what I have to say below. Then come and read what I say and let me know what I’ve overlooked.

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