Saturday, January 31, 2015

Lennox's 10, Part I

Written by reporter Heather Tomlinson, an article published a few months ago in Christian Today features Christian apologist John Lennox offering curt rejoinders to a series of statements that are critical of religion in general and Christianity in particular.

John Lennox is a professor of mathematics at the University of Oxford, he is active in Christian ministry, and he has put in number of appearances in high-profile debates with critics of religion, including Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Michael Shermer. The article, titled Ten quick responses to atheist claims, appears to mingle Tomlinson’s own replies to the prompts sprinkled with little snippets by Lennox.

The article explains:
You don't have to read hundreds of books before you can discuss your faith with an atheist. Sometimes claims and questions that are just short soundbites can be answered just as quickly. At the London Evangelists' Conference yesterday, Professor John Lennox offered some quick responses to some common claims from atheists.
So “soundbites” are the offerings that Christian Today is happy to pass on from the professorial Christian apologist. (It’s an attention span thing.) As one might predict, the prompts to which Prof. Lennox responds are total soft balls. While many have been repeated in passing by atheists over the years, they don’t get to the heart of the conflict, which is faith’s opposition to reason. But an examination of the replies offered to the prompts may be instructive for those who might miss the deeper issues that are systematically washed over when apologetics takes the form of “soundbites.”

In this series, beginning with the present post, I will take a look at the prompts and the reactions which Christian Today has published. I will cover two items in each post, with a total of five entries in this series.
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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Petersen vs. the Universe

Jason Petersen has posted a reaction to my several posts refuting his faltering attempts to criticize Leonard Peikoff’s assessments of god-belief. Petersen’s article can be found here: A Response to Dawson Bethrick: Leonard Peikoff’s Objections to God’s Exitence. Apparently Petersen believes that by responding to my blog entries, he’s somehow doing his position a service. He does not realize that he is simply giving his critics more ammunition. When religious believers attempt to erect defenses for their worldviews, they very often fail to see the inconsistencies they wander into and end up affirming. I’m glad this isn’t my problem!

Curiously, in examining Petersen’s lengthy diatribe (I don’t find David Smart or Sye Ten Bruggencate – both of whom have complained about the lengthiness of some of my blog entries – whining that Petersen’s article is “longwinded”), I nowhere found any active hyperlinks to my series of blog entries interacting with Petersen's objections to Leonard Peikoff, of which there are five! Petersen does give a few URLs to my blog entries, but in case anyone has missed them, I’m happy to post links to them here:
Now, don’t get me wrong. I admit that I really do like seeing Christians attempting to interact with my writings, if for nothing else the entertainment value that can come of such endeavors. But articles like Petersen’s also help get the word out for me, and given the wide array of issues covered in them, they also provide ample opportunity for more cutting-edge atheology! In fact, a number of my readers have informed me that they had discovered my blog through Christian sources and that they were glad to find my writings. So while Jason Petersen may think he’s out slaying dragons for Jesus, he is in fact helping in his own way to promote my ideas. So for this alone, I want to extend my gratitude to him. May Jason Petersen continue to be the gift that keeps on giving!
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Saturday, January 03, 2015

Fringe Outliers or Pioneering Trailblazers?

In an article titled It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas ... Mythicism's in the Air published by ABC.net.au on 24 Dec. 2014, Australian author and lecturer John Dickson takes a former student of his to the woodshed for not towing the standard Christian party line about the alleged historicity of the Jesus of the gospel narratives. Who is John Dickson? According to Wikipedia page about him, Dickson is:
an Australian writer, historian, minister and Honorary Fellow in the Department of Ancient History at Macquarie University. He is co-founder and director of the Centre for Public Christianity, a media company which seeks to "promote the public understanding of the Christian faith".
Also, in addition to his lecturing at Macquarie University, Dickson finds time to serve as the senior minister of an Anglican church in Roseville, Australia. Dickson has also published a number of books, with such titles as The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission: Promoting the Gospel with More Than Our Lips, Promoting the Gospel: the Whole of Life for the Cause of Christ and A Spectator's Guide to Jesus: An Introduction to the Man from Nazaret to name but a few.

It seems safe to say, then, that Dickson, as a committed Christian believer and minister, has a confessional investment to protect here. Now in pointing this out, I may be accused of poisoning the well. But in fact, I’m simply pointing out the facts here. And when citing facts is considered fallacious, this tells us something about those who raise objections to citing facts.
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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Jason Petersen on Objectivism and the Laws of Logic

A visitor to my blog recently asked me to comment on an article by Jason Petersen titled 28. Q and A: Objectivism and the Laws of Logic. As with virtually everything else I’ve read by Jason Petersen, this article has the dubious propensity to cause informed readers involuntarily to perform a double face-palm while trying to maintain the resolve to read on to the second paragraph.

In his article, Petersen presents a question – purportedly from a visitor to his site Answers for Hope - and proceeds as though he had something positively instructive to say in response to it. But since there’s always the possibility that some readers will find themselves more baffled after reading Petersen’s article than before they even knew of its existence,

The questioner, Jay, writes:
I have a question about how objectivsts account for Laws of Logic.
Now, the first question that flashed through my mind when I read this, was: Why would anyone go to Jason Petersen with a question about how “objectivists account for Laws of Logic”? Why suppose that Jason Petersen knows anything about the laws of logic, let alone Objectivism’s view of logic, in the first place? Perhaps Jay was feeling hopeless and figured that Jason Petersen could provide some “answers for hope.” We may never know whether or not Jay found Petersen’s responses to be satisfying, but we will take a look at them and determine their worthiness for ourselves.
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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Glossary of Terms

Some weeks ago I thought it would be a good idea to assemble a glossary of terms that would be helpful for thinkers who are interested in understanding Objectivism and my approach to atheology. Below I have assembled a glossary of 50 terms which are frequently used in many of my writings. Some of the definitions offered are my own, but most come from other sources (a good bulk of them coming directly from Ayn Rand’s writings). For most items, I have provided links for further reading.

Enjoy!

by Dawson Bethrick
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Saturday, November 01, 2014

Jason Petersen on the Fallacy of Pure Self-Reference

While Floyd FP was making efforts to raise objections against Objectivism and defend his subjecto-solipsistic position from the charge that it commits the fallacy of pure self-reference (see here), I found a Q&A article by none other than Jason Petersen in which the strapping young “Clarkian presuppositionalist” attempted to bring into question the legitimacy of there being such a thing as a the fallacy of pure self-reference. Petersen is apparently replying to a visitor to his website who raised questions about the fallacy of pure self-reference.

Here we have more proof that Petersen is content to make pronouncements about things of which he has little if any understanding. Why anyone would go to Jason Petersen in an effort to become better informed on anything falling under the purview of philosophy is beyond me. But he’s set himself up in a “ministry” and apparently that is all it takes, within Christianity, to become some sort of “expert” on philosophy.

Today’s [sic]-fest comes from Petersen’s 28. Q + A: The Fallacy of Pure-Self Reference [sic] (right – he doesn’t even get the hyphen correct!). In this “Q + A,” Petersen feigns to have the acumen to address a question about the fallacy of pure self-reference (notice where the hyphen goes).
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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Primacy of Existence vs. the Prior Certainty of Consciousness

Recently I posted a lengthy blog entry comprehensively analyzing a Youtube video titled Why The Primacy of Existence Is No Problem For Any Presuppositionalist by someone calling himself “Ozymandias Ramses II” – or simply “Ozy” – who apparently has a number of videos discussing presuppositionalism.

In my examination of what Ozy states in that video, I found a number of outstanding errors, errors which bring into question Ozy’s familiarity with Objectivism, and I set out to correct them in that examination.

Yesterday I received two comments responding to my blog entry by one or more anonymous visitors to my blog. Both comments are posted by “Unknown,” and the commenter did not sign his or her posts with a name. The second comment appears to be an elaboration on the initial one, and it came before the first one was published on my blog for visitors to read. So all indicators are that both comments were submitted by the same author.
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