Challenge to Atheists?
Here we have another pseudo-philosopher. In answering 1, the ontology of morality is the human brain. In other words, the existence of morality is contingent on the human brain; if humans ceased to exist, right and wrong would cease to exist. Furthermore, it can be argued that an alternative ontology is language. Morality is simply a word applied to some nominal or real independent reality; a lot can be said on the reality of morality—on whether it is actually real, nominal, or unreal. However, in the interest of brevity and in the interest of staying on topic, I maintain that morality, like science and like so many other things human, is a developing system that was at some point codified as what we call law. These codes are held up by social convention, which is not to be confused with majority rule. Evolution may not be able to speak on the ontology of morality, but it is able to speak on the reason for its continuing existence and development. In simple terms, morality is a way of protecting the individual and the people—and is thus, a survival mechanism; survival being the engine of a living organism, is also the reason we are moral beings—beings concerned with right and wrong.
Murder is morally wrong because it isn’t an action that is in the best interest of the individual or society; at one point, this wasn’t entirely true, but that echoes back to what I said earlier: morality is a developing system. Morality, like science, is a fallible system; however, that doesn’t imply that truth can’t be derived from such systems. That’s the beauty of morality: it doesn’t have to provide absolute truth(s). In any case, them who consider morality man-made do not state that murder and stealing is morally right; to the contrary, we state that such actions are morally wrong though our reasons are clearly different from those of Christians and Muslims. Ultimately, if you steal someone’s chickens or kill someone’s lizards, you are violating someone’s property and thus, you are in violation of social convention. Even your Jesus believed in social convention; his simple reduction of the commandments was “do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31). In other words, don’t do to others what you don’t want done to you; if you don’t like it when someone steals your valuables and kills your pets, don’t do it to someone else. The fact that you don’t realize that on your own is rather scary; the fact that you need religion to be moral demonstrates that you aren’t thinking hard enough.
Also, if the morality in the Bible is absolute truth, where did the cultures (see here) that predated the early Israelites get their moral codes from? Why were their moral codes exactly like the moral codes that Yahweh supposedly passed down through Moses? Why were their moral codes more elaborate and developed? If the moral code in the Bible is absolutely true, why aren’t we stoning homosexuals, adulterers and disobedient children? Yes, I know, because of Jesus; but if the moral codes of the past were absolutely true, why did they change? Philosophers think more than they speak and they think before they speak; that’s a nice way of telling you to shut up and to put some thought into your positions.
It is difficult to deny that there is a strong negative trend between professional expertise in the field of science and traditional monotheistic beliefs. 93% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences do not believe in the existence of god, while an almost reversed proportion of 92% of the general American public do believe in a god. While different polls have slightly different numbers, and while the specific views people hold about a god can vary within many shades of grey, it is still hard to deny that there is an inverse relationship between one’s expert background in science and their belief in monotheism.
I do not mean to argue or imply by any of this that such a trend discredits monotheism. That would be an appeal to authority that I have no intention of making. What I do wish to address here is a reverse appeal to authority that I have heard repeated by many apologists:
“Sure, if you just read those scientists like Dawkins and Harris, you are going to think that science disproves God, but you need to study what philosophers have to say about God!”
From the article:
So which is the correct interpretation of the data? Are the majority of professional scientists and philosophers atheist simply because they are moral failures trying to cover up for their spiritual shortcomings? Or are apologists like Craig merely grasping at straws and committing ad hominem attacks to rationalize how Christian scientists and philosophers are such a fringe and extreme minority in the fields they claim support their beliefs in an ancient religion? I leave it to the readers to decide.
#atheist #atheism #agnosticism #god #jesus #godless #allah #islam #religion #church #dirtysouth #catholic #jews #islam #fundamentalism
Can you experimentally test your belief that only experimentally tested beliefs hold value?
Seems kind of self-refuting.
Using this definition means that Nietzsche, Sartre, Camus, and Stirner wouldn’t be atheists.
Even proton-empiricists like Epicurus wouldn’t go as far as the above definition.
Furthermore, this explanation is rationally untenable. It relies upon a non-empirically verifiable epistemology that postulates that all truth is empirically verifiable. So it’s either circular, prone to infinite regress, or you hope that it is axiomatic/a basic belief.
Considering how new this view is, how much of a break it is from virtually all forms of world philosophy, I don’t think the last one can be sustained.
Permit me some speculation.
The success of the natural sciences over the past 150 years has made their methodology extremely attractive as a grounding for all forms of knowledge. If one can hook on ones ideology/politics/ethics onto a “scientific” worldview, it gives the appearance of settling the deep questions that have plagued all forms of philosophical discourse since the beginning. It gives the illusion that in a chaotic world, one can have certainty by the standard of the scientific method, that can legitimize the views that one holds dear while finally putting to rest all those doubts that hover at the edge of all the other attempts to settle such questions.
Another reason why i find Atheism self-refuting and philosophically limited.
Well, according to this definition, any abstract idea like love, wisdom, or courage simply does not exist because you cannot put it into a test tube. Brilliant.
According to this definition, any scientific theory simply does not exist since a theory is just “A supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something”. How intelligent the maker of this must have been.
Well I think the tumblr Catholic community collectively dealt with this pretty well, hey? :P
At first I wasn’t going to include the graphic, but I’m deciding to because I want my fellow atheists (or at least most of them) to see how foolish it is. Of course Tumblr Catholics dealt with it because the graphic is nonsense. Atheism, prescriptively speaking, is disbelief in gods. Descriptively, it is a lot more (i.e. the disbelief in specific religious claims (original sin, for example); the disbelief in other supernatural beings (angels, demons, asuras, amesha spentas, etc.); the disbelief in religious texts and their claims (in other words, a disbelief in the Bible, the Qur’an, the Adi Granth, etc.); the disbelief in the supposed effectiveness of religious practices and rituals (i.e. prayer, fasting, meditation, etc.); so on and so forth). Few atheists would agree with the statement made in the graphic; even fewer atheists would define atheism as such. To refute this graphic and then act as if you refuted atheism is exactly what I meant by misrepresentations. I don’t know, maybe this is who you are, but I’m not going to stand idly by and allow it; I will make sure that these misrepresentations are addressed.
Modern atheists, though they should concern themselves with more, are concerned with (mostly) one question: is Christianity true? Modern atheists also claim to know the answer to that question. Catholics and all Christians for that matter should be concerned with this answer. But rather than be concerned with the answer, they seem quite content with misrepresenting our position. Let’s shift the focus momentarily: is it right to conclude that the views of one Catholic represents the views of all Catholics? The answer is a resounding no and by now, you probably know where I’m going with this. If the views of one Catholic don’t represent the views of all Catholics, then the views of one atheist (one strange atheist with delusions of grandeur at that) don’t represent the views of all atheists. I, for one, wouldn’t make such a claim; as an aspiring philosopher of science, I know better than to make such a claim of empiricism—and I definitely know better than to equate empiricism with atheism! With that said, atheism isn’t self-refuting or philosophically limited.
What’s self-refuting about a disbelief in gods? What’s self-refuting about a disbelief in supernatural beings, religious texts and the effectiveness of religious practices and rituals? If my view is self-refuting, then your view is, in large part, self-refuting because you also disbelieve in x number of gods, y number of religious texts and z number of religious practices and rituals. You are Catholic. You are not a Protestant (thus, you probably think tongue speaking is some “heretical” practice; you are not Buddhist or Jain (therefore, you don’t believe in the effectiveness of meditation or the chanting of mantras); you are not Hindu (hence you don’t believe in the effectiveness of puja); you are not Zoroastrian (thus, you don’t believe in Amesha Spentas); you don’t believe in the wisdom of the gurus because you’re not a Sikh. I can go on and on and on. In any event, if my worldview is self-refuting, your worldview is mostly self-refuting because you don’t seem to realize that you incorporate elements of my worldview into your own. Now, don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. What I’m saying is that you employ a lot of non-belief in being a Catholic. That’s not the same as saying, “all of us our atheists; some of us go one god further.” I’m simply stating the obvious: in believing in your god, you’re effectively disbelieving in countless others—and often without any justification whatsoever. Again, what is philosophically limited and self-refuting about a view you clearly borrow from?
This is just a silly mantra some Christians like to sing: “atheism is self-refuting; modern atheists aren’t philosophically sophisticated.” Yet they fail to demonstrate that. To the contrary, modern day Christians are mostly philosophically unsophisticated; I often become depressed at the amount of fallacies I’m able to point to in only the first page of most Christian blogs! Then there are others who employ pseudo-sophistry (i.e. “how do you know you’re not a brain in a vat?”) and call it philosophy or proclaim themselves to be sophisticated theologians (i.e. “The Omnipotence Paradox doesn’t refute god because the atheist doesn’t define omnipotent correctly; god is omnipotent, but he can’t do illogical things.”). Stopping the Sun and the Moon isn’t illogical!? (Joshua 10:13) Or is that suddenly and conveniently some figurative allegory? Also, if god is subject to logic, then doesn’t that imply that logic is more powerful; if some thing is more powerful than a thing called omnipotent, is it logical to call it that? Sophisticated theologians dig themselves deeper without realizing it. In any case, that mini-essay represents atheism: a consistent state of doubt. Your belief is comprised mostly of an inconsistent state of doubt: you doubt a plethora of beliefs, and though you have plenty of reason to doubt your own, you continue to believe whilst ignoring your opponents.
Daniel Dennett’s Seven Tools for Thinking
Cognitive scientist and philosopher Daniel Dennett is one of America’s foremost thinkers. In this extract from his new book, he reveals some of the lessons life has taught him.
1 USE YOUR MISTAKES
We have all heard the forlorn refrain: “Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time!” This phrase has come to stand for the rueful reflection of an idiot, a sign of stupidity, but in fact we should appreciate it as a pillar of wisdom. Any being, any agent, who can truly say: “Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time!” is standing on the threshold of brilliance. We human beings pride ourselves on our intelligence, and one of its hallmarks is that we can remember our previous thinking and reflect on it – on how it seemed, on why it was tempting in the first place and then about what went wrong.
Time and time again apologists will accuse skeptics of not believing in miracles solely because of “naturalist presuppositions.” Repeatedly I have patiently explained that my skepticism towards miracle is not some a priori prejudice, but rather a conclusion reached a posteriori upon investigating the world that we live in. Did we all as children abandon our belief in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy because we presupposed one day on our couch that such persons cannot exist? Or rather, was it upon growing up and investing the world that we realized that these characters are simply incompatible with the realm of all experience?
Scientism is the view that all factual knowledge is only known through science. Put simply, I strongly disagree. Any scientist, or anyone for that matter, who espouses this view has neglected to remember that facts are objective and independent of both the observer and the (scientific) theory that explains the fact (i.e. Evolution is a fact; evolution by natural selection is a theory).
Shocking title? Yes, but it turns out that it’s also true—assuming one follows Christianity to its ultimate conclusion. Before I proceed, it may be useful to define nihilism. Nihilism, in the existential sense, is the philosophical notion that life is ultimately meaningless. But if god gives life meaning, how is it then meaningless?
For one, it is arguable that belief in god actually gives life meaning. However, when placing the emphasis on Christianity, god doesn’t give life meaning. If he existed, life would be stripped of all meaning. Life would be reduced to “trials and tribulations.” It would be reduced to the mandate to spread the Gospel, which is salvation through Jesus Christ—salvation from the wages of sin, which is death, and not just physical death, but eternal death where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. So life, if Christianity were true, would be a means to an end. It doesn’t matter in any inherent sense, and our only reason for living would be to avoid Hell and inherit Heaven.
Family and friends wouldn’t matter either. According to some eschatological beliefs (its origin I don’t claim to know, but perhaps Revelation 21:4), if you’re in heaven, you wouldn’t remember your drunk father who didn’t make the cut! All those years you spent trying to convert him and praying for him and dedicating fasts to him wouldn’t matter in the end. That friend you currently pray for has already joined you in Heaven or descended to Hell in god’s eternal eyes. Your life is a test, a continuous mission to spread your religion, a struggle to win souls; it has no inherent meaning though you believe in the so called giver of life.
That is the ultimate conclusion: Christianity is the ultimate nihilism! Though it disguises its nihilism as a form of existentialism by positing that god gives life meaning, when following Christianity to its full conclusion, you also have to conclude that life would have no meaning if it were true. Again, it is a means to an end; it is trials, tribulations and the spread of the Gospel via the winning of souls for Christ. It is just an arbitrary step that has been already been decided (Psalms 139:16). How macabre! You don’t even get to choose whether or not you go to church tomorrow. You don’t get to decide whether or not you evangelize to that group of people two years from now. You don’t get to will yourself into heaven through faith in Christ. It’s already decided. So if your life wasn’t already meaningless, it just became more meaningless because you have absolutely no say though you may think you do. Your days have been written; your choices have already been decided. You make a choice today, but he already wrote it, and he didn’t prevent it. When the teens got in the car drunk and eventually hit a tree and died, he decided not to prevent it. These are your beliefs if followed to their full conclusion. Christianity is the ultimate nihilism!
I’ve always argued that philosophers spend way too much time trying to limn conceptions of free will that avoid dualism. Instead, they write books confecting compatibilism. I regard this exercise as largely a waste of time. If philosophers truly intend for their lucubrations to change the world, then I’d think that they’d spend more of their time spreading the word about our growing knowledge of how behavior is determined and less on trying to show how we have some kind of free will.
An excellent article on an emerging field known as neurocriminology. From the article:
The field of neurocriminology—using neuroscience to understand and prevent crime—is revolutionizing our understanding of what drives “bad” behavior. More than 100 studies of twins and adopted children have confirmed that about half of the variance in aggressive and antisocial behavior can be attributed to genetics. Other research has begun to pinpoint which specific genes promote such behavior.
Brain-imaging techniques are identifying physical deformations and functional abnormalities that predispose some individuals to violence. In one recent study, brain scans correctly predicted which inmates in a New Mexico prison were most likely to commit another crime after release. Nor is the story exclusively genetic: A poor environment can change the early brain and make for antisocial behavior later in life.
Relativist: Morals don’t exist. Only preference.
Ravi Zacharias: Some cultures love their neighbours. Other cultures eat their neighbours. Which do you prefer?
“Therefore, Ravi Zacharias, the objective moral proponent is right.” Wrong. Moral objectivists, like moral relativists, have a simplistic view of morality. They are two sides of the same coin—simpletons claiming superiority over one another. What Ravi says here is a perfect example of attempting to present a “trip you up” scenario. Unfortunately, someone who has a broader view on morality will answer that simply: if moral relativism were true, social convention would still have to be accounted for; in other words, do moral agents (us humans) think it beneficial to allow cannibalism? Of course not—and pointing at particular, underdeveloped tribes like the Korowai in New Guinea or the Sentinelese in North Sentinel don’t help your case. Therefore, on social convention, societies would prefer loving their neighbors rather than eating them—never mind the laws that prohibit cannibalism in Westernized and other more developed societies.
However, relativism is false. Objectivism is true, but not in the deontological, “god is the moral lawgiver” sense. I have a platform that describes morality and I’ll lay it out briefly. It’s ontology is the human brain; in other words, if we cease to exist, right and wrong cease to exist. Put another way, morality is contingent on humans. Once we abstracted a right-and-wrong system, we developed it via social convention (an agreement on normative truths). Therefore, on the surface, my view is a realist view known as constructivism. However, I take it a step further. How is it that I conclude that morals are objective? Instead of taking the deontological route that Christians take, I take a teleological route. Matthew Ferguson has written about this at length (read here). He provides an interesting view on morality without invoking the objectivism of theists or the relativism of simpleton atheists.
Word of advice: stop looking to apologists as your source of authority; they’re interest is the spread and defense of the Gospel. They could care less about what’s actually true.