• About TWIM


    The Warfare Is Mental (TWIM) reflects the mental warfare of an author, screenwriter, publisher and member of the Writer's Guild of America. Family, friends, health, humor, art, music, science, faith, fun and knowledge are some of the things that are important to me.



    TWIM is the first and only theist blog listed on the Atheist Blogroll, which currently contains over 1,000 blogs. It goes without saying that I don't endorse hardly any of the views of any of them. Contact Mojoey for more information.



    Ironically, TWIM won an award for "Best Atheist / Skeptic Site" from this site. Much obliged.



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    You and your commenters are a feast of thinking — great stuff.

    -C.L. Dyck
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I have no need to engage with racists, so will ignore cl’s further diatribes.

    -faithlessgod,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    cl resists following through on a thought even to provide a solid opposing position, and thus stifles many conversations. It’s a shame since it seems like cl has some brain power that could be applied to the topics at hand.

    -Hermes,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    [faithlessgod and Hermes] fit my definition of trolling. I didn’t take any of those attacks against you seriously, and quickly categorized them as trolls.

    -JS Allen,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    [cl] is, as many have noticed, a master of this warfare. I’ve been following him for quite some time and he’s one of the most effective Christian trolls out there. No one can completely destroy a conversation as effectively as he does, and with such masterful grace and subtly that he rarely gets banned. This isn’t a blunt-force “U R Hitler!” troll, this is the Yoda of trolling.

    -Eneasz,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    This seems to imply that cl is, at least in part, disingenuous in terms of how he responds/what he claims. Is this most likely true, supported by evidence, or merely a subjective claim?

    -al friedlander,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    ...I wanted to get a message to you outside of the context of specific discussions on CSA. You make good, insightful contributions to that site, and since I often agree with you I'm glad there is someone else there defending my positions better than I sometimes can. However I don't think anything of value would be lost if you stopped engaging in personal combat with juvenile snipers.

    -Zeb,
     CommonSenseAtheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Thank you for your wonderful response - so reasoned in the race of [Waldvogel's] blustering.

    -Annie Laurie Gaylor
     Freedom From Religion Foundation
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Thanks for a great Op-Ed.

    -Marianne Ratcliff
     VC Star
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    ...as atheists we need to make sure that someone like cl and any Christian readers of [An Apostate's Chapel] don’t come away with the perception that the atheists caved in or were incapable of responding. I’m sure that a lot of Christians who find cl incomprehensible at times and don’t even bother reading him themselves will come away with an assumption that cl is that sort of rare intellectual theist who can prove that gods exist. And that’s how those inane rumors about the feared xian intellectuals start…

    -bbk
     An Apostate's Chapel
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You are in so over your head here, you are embarrassing yourself...
    I am well versed in many aspects of evolution biology, through my academic background, and my professional life. Unless your academic degrees and background match mine, cease and desist. Return to philosophy and rhetoric, or whatever it is you perceive your strengths to be. They are definitely not science, even at the high school level.

    -R.C. Moore
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You're doing a fine job.

    -Prof. Larry Moran
     Dept. of Biochemistry
     University of Toronto
     re: R.C. Moore & others
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Phyletic change and vicariance (or, drift and selection versus population isolation), as cl points out, are much better ways of describing what are unfortunately more commonly known as micro- and macro- evolution, respectively.

    -Dan
     Biology postdoc
     Univ. of Cyprus
     re: R.C. Moore & others
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    cl says, “The minute you call yourself a Christian or an Atheist or whatever the heck else, you automatically get painted by other people’s interpretations of those words, which are almost always different and almost always distorted.” cl’s point couldn’t be more on. As cl points out there is an important reason for not claiming any real religious (or lack thereof) belief. It puts logical constraints on one's arguments due directly to the bias of the individual that is translating the English to mind ideas of what it means to be religious.

    -Bobaloo
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Just who in the bloody hell do you think you are, you Christian piece of garbage, to come here barking out orders? You're an arrogant, condescending piece of shit. You seem to think you're an intellectual of sorts, when all you are is a Christian who's read a few books. John, everyone, this really is the limit. BR, I'm more than a little annoyed that you continue to engage him. I'm out of here. I have better things to do than to waste my time with these cretins.

    -Cipher
     Debunking Christianity
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    How old are you CL? I'd guess you have not yet experienced much life. I'd say you were under the age of 21, too young to be here. I don't give a damn what you think of me or my deconversion at all. You're too stupid to realize that regardless of it you must deal with the arguments in the book. They are leading people away from you [sic] faith. I'm seriously considering banning you cl, as I've heard you were banned on other sites. You are much too ignorant for us to have a reasonable discussion.

    -John Loftus
     Debunking Christianity
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I admired the way you handled yourself in the discussion on John's blog. I'm not patient enough to keep my sarcasm in check with some of them blokes, but appreciate those who are.

    -David Marshall
     re: Debunking Christianity
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    cl, I have to say, while I fundamentally disagree with you, you are an individual which I highly respect. I think your responses are always well thought out and your insights always well thought out and pertinently derived.
    [Y]ou have made me a stronger atheist in my regards to critical thinking and debating. I really can’t wait to hear more from you. Hell, I’d even buy you a drink, good sir. Cheers!

    -Parker
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Bottom line? Sometimes I think he's right about certain arguments, and I don't have a problem admitting that. Other times, however, I think he's wrong, and I've called him on that. But I have found he can be pretty reasonable if you (1) don't overstate your case, (2) make concessions when you have, and (3) insist he do the same.

    -Lifeguard
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I like it when [cl] makes me stop, think and question if I am making unfounded assertions or if I am being sloppy. What has been annoying me about cl of late is that he is being excruciatingly anal...

    -seantheblogonaut
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I really can't thank you enough for catching me on my error in rhetoric. I always love a good debate! And I always enjoy your posts, as well! Keep up the great writing and the excellent eye for detail!

    -BZ
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You make me smarter...

    -Mike G.
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    ..thank you, cl. I discovered your blog on a random web search and saw it as an oasis amidst a vast desert of seemingly intractable theist-atheist debate.

    -Sung Jun
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    It's good to be able to discuss with people who are open and respectful, and know that disagreement does not mean disrespect... You are to be congratulated, not only for your patience, but also your ability to hold an ever-growing debate together with an impressive degree of structure.

    -Ritchie
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    My tone is derogatory... [cl is] ignorant and credulous and deserves to be mocked... In the time he's been here, he's shown a consistent pattern of antagonizing everyone he comes in contact with, monopolizing threads, derailing discussions with perpetual complaints, quibbles and demands for attention, and generally making arguments that display a lack of good faith and responsiveness... it's become intolerable. I'm not banning him, but I'm putting in place some restrictions on how often he can comment.

    -Ebonmuse
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    This is no defense of the annoying cl, but what a self-righteous, prissy atheist you turned out to be, Ebonmuse. I'm disappointed in you, stealing a strategem from the theists.

    -The Exterminator
     to Ebonmuse
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I certainly didn't get any bad impression about cl, and I can't relate his comments with any of the things (Ebonmuse) said above. I actually thought it was quite interesting to have him around.

    -Juan Felipe
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Please continue to allow
    cl to post his views and make it clear that he is still welcome. And let me be clear, cl is not a lunatic.

    -Curtis
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    With one exception, you are the most coherent and intelligent theist I've seen on this site...

    -Steve Bowen
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I'm rooting for cl. I hope he perpetually manages to skirt the rules enough to do his damage, forcing rule revision after rule revision, ad nauseum. Awesome! Let's watch as Ebon, ever more frustrated, continues to struggle to figure out how to keep his precious private blog neat and tidy as cl keeps messing up his papers while one by one, readers leave due to an every increasing administrative presence. Outstanding! Well I won't go. The thought of this sounds like the most entertaining thing that probably would have ever happened on Daylight Atheism. Hot damn!

    -PhillyChief
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Your visit has been something of a reality check to me. It seems that when you present rational arguments and criticisms, many commenters feel territory slipping and then work up vaporous or leaky responses. I also want to remark that your presence here has considerably moved me to try being a more careful and understanding debater...

    -Brad
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I do have a lot of respect for you too. You seem to be a very intelligent and thoughtful individual with a knack for getting to the bottom of a problem, cutting through all the bullshit rhetoric on the way down. The fact that many other atheists seem to unreasonably despise you bothers me a lot, because I think that maybe they aren’t acting in good faith.

    -Peter Hurford
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I am not going to waste any more time parsing your comments to decide if they've crossed the line or not... So I banned you.

    -Greta Christina
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Be rude... cl invites rudeness. Would you want an incontinent little puppy coming into your house?

    -(((Billy))) the Atheist
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Note to all my regular readers: Since An Apostate’s Chapel is a free-speech zone, I don’t censor conversations.
    As it appears that cl is a troll, please note that I will not be responding to him any longer. I ask that you refrain from doing so, as well. Please don’t feed the troll!

    -The Chaplain
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    …I can’t reconcile being a "freethinker" with banning speech. [cl's] comments are not offensive in the normal understanding of that term, and he poses absolutely no threat except perhaps to some imagined decorum. Why can’t atheists lighten up, for no-Christ’s sake?

    -The Exterminator
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Is it going to distract from my meal when crazy uncle cl starts blathering out nonsense, pick his ears with a carrot or start taking his pants off? No. In fact, it might actually heighten the experience in some amusing way. So no, I don't see cl's work as damage.

    -PhillyChief
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I am beginning to suspect that you are a troll cl. Albeit an evolved troll, but a troll nonetheless. Perhaps we should all stop feeding the troll?

    -GaySolomon
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    [cl is] is either a sophist or an incompetent when it comes to the english language... (sic)

    -ThatOtherGuy
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I’d say cl is pretty sharp... it may be tempting at times to think that “the other guy” is arguing out of some personal character flaw rather than a sincere desire to acknowledge the truth, I still think it’s better to debate respectfully... It is disrespectful to make unsupported accusations against people, e.g. by suggesting that their views are caused by an intrinsically corrupt and immoral nature.

    -Deacon Duncan, 3-9-09
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    [cl] cannot refute my facts, so he needs must find (sic) some scapegoat in order to claim that he has confronted the enemy and proven them wrong... cl, sadly, has proven himself to be the sort of guest who comes into your living room and sneaks behind your couch to take a crap on the floor, just so he can tell all your neighbors how bad your house smells and what an unsanitary housekeeper you are... an interesting case study in the negative effects a Christian worldview has on a reasonably intellectual mind.

    -Deacon Duncan, 6-17-09
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I strongly discourage discussion of the character, abilities, motives, or personal ancestry of individual commenters, as tempting as such comments may be at times. I discourage the posting of comments that make frequent use of the pronoun “you,” as in “you always…” or “you never…” or “you are just so…”, when directed at a specific individual.

    -Deacon Duncan, 4-9-09
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I won’t be publishing your most recent comment because it’s a return to the same sort of schtick you’ve pulled here before: re-writing other people’s arguments to make yourself look misunderstood and/or unfairly accused, taking “polyvalent” positions so that when people address your points you can claim to have said something else, distorting other people’s arguments, trolling for negative reactions, and so on.

    -Deacon Duncan, 10-8-09
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    [E]gomaniacal troll.
    You win... You’re a disingenuous sophist through and through, cl. And a friggin’ narcissist to boot! Since I’ve thoroughly and purposefully broken the Deacon’s rules of engagement, I shall consider my right to post henceforth annulled, and move on - dramatic pause, lights out.

    -jim
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    He either thinks in a very weird way or he's quite the con artist.

    -mikespeir
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I will gladly admit that I have a boner for cl. Maybe some day I’ll even earn a place of honor on cl’s Blog of Infamy.

    -Eneasz
     Evangelical Realism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Long time reader first time poster... I like reading what you
    have to say over at Daylight Atheism so I figured I'd pop in here.

    -Pine
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    He's just a jerk
    that likes to argue.

    -KShep
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You’re not a reasonable thinker in my book. You’re simply an arguer, for better or worse. I’m Michael Palin, you’re John Cleese. You’re just a disputation-ist, bringing everything into question...

    -jim
     Reason vs. Apologetics
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    Motherfucker, this is an interesting blog... Quite the group of commenters.

    -John Evo
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You are very articulate, and I can only assume that it's a result of high intelligence; an intelligence that's interested in, and can understand, healthy debate. However, at every turn, that's not what I or others seem to get.

    -ex machina
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You are a troll, a liar, and a useless sack of shit. Not only that, but you're still wrong even after moving the goal posts and trying to re-write history. So, you can stop cyber stalking me now and trying to provoke me. I know what you are doing, and you are doing it so that you can whine about how I'm being irrational and mean to you and stroke your pathetic martyr complex. You're a pathetic attention whore and I've already given you too much attention. So, back the fuck off, stop following me around the intarwebs and trying to provoke me, and fuck off.

    -OMGF
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I would just like to say that, OMGF, having read the debate as a neutral observer, some of the things cl says about your style of argument are true, IMO. It is quite hasty, which means you occasionally haven't got the central point cl is trying to make...

    -John D.
     Daylight Atheism
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    ...this is a difficult question that deserves more than a kneejerk reaction, not to imply that you're kneejerking. You're the least kneejerking person I've met.

    -Quixote
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    If you’re here playing devil’s advocate, then, hey, you do a great job at it, it’s a service, keep us sharp... You’re a smart guy, but those are exactly the ones who give the worst headaches!

    -Lifeguard
     An Apostate's Chapel
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    You are a waste of time, cl. A big fat black hole of bullshit sucking in everyone who comes into contact with you.

    -Spanish Inquisitor
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    As for all that harsh invective that's come your way, umm... I gotta say, I've seen some of the invective, but I haven't seen the behavior on your part that called for it. Maybe I've just not seen enough? I don't know... from what I've read, I can tell that you're a smart person, and whether you deserved any of that treatment or not is quite frankly immaterial to me; I just want to deal with the smart person at the eye of that storm.

    -D
     She Who Chatters
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    I now think that you’re an atheist, just having fun at other atheists’ expense. If that’s the case, kudos.

    -The Exterminator
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
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False Argument #12: Atheism Is Scientifically Tenable

It's often easy to spot faulty reasoning in somebody else's belief system, but how many of us rigorously apply equal scrutiny to our own cherished worldview?

The failure to do so is known as special pleading and I was recently accused of this intellectual atrocity by a good friend of mine while discussing the movie Zeitgeist. After weeks of hearing nothing but hype and praise about this film I'd love to tell you how disappointed I was with it, but now is not the time and you're more than welcomed to read the review. All you need to know for our dialog here is that the opening segments show in quick succession visual images depicting the epic problems of humanity, asking what could possibly be their cause.

The first potential cause offered is religion, and the filmmakers present almost a dozen examples of folks who made similar claims as the Bible makes for Jesus Christ, all of which were made long before the New Testament was even written. The implication was that all religions are misinterpreted sun-myths endangered by radicals who threaten humanity in a post-nuclear world, a claim I partly agree with. At any rate, my friend, a computer programmer firmly grounded in logic whom I esteem as one of the most skeptically intelligent friends I've made, was of the opinion that the existence of messianic claims that predate Christ inherently weakened the New Testament's claims about Christ. I disagreed. Continuing to persuade me, he brought up an analogy from skateboarding.

In the skateboarding world it is generally without dispute that Mark Gonzales was the first to grind down a handrail. My friend reasoned that if another skateboarder came up claiming to be the first to grind a handrail, that I would quickly and correctly identify that skater as a poser, a charlatan, a fraud. I thought for a second, then agreed. "I would say that skater was wrong," I
replied, "…because we both know that Gonz was the first to do that trick." He then asked why my same logic didn't apply to messianic claims that predate Christ, and immediately attributed my disagreement to special pleading. At first I wondered if he'd caught me in a bona fide breach of logic, but I defended my position, contending I'd made no such breach, and he challenged me to support my point.

I believe I did.

Whether made by Osiris, Christ, or the weirdo down the way, messianic claims remain just that: claims. And like all religious claims, messianic claims cannot be verified empirically. In the case of grinding handrails, however, we find an event that can be verified empirically, and indeed video evidence and personal testimonies corroborate the claim that people have been grinding down handrails on skateboards for over twenty years now.

So of course I'd call the unknown skater claiming to be the first to grind a handrail a poser, not of special pleading, but because the conclusion fits the observable data. However, in the case of messianic or resurrection claims, we have no observable data, other than the written records in which the claims were made, which qualifies as circumstantial evidence at best. So I wouldn't call Jesus a poser simply because there is no incontrovertible, empirical data proving that life does or does not extend beyond death; data one absolutely needs to level any reasonable charge against anyone who makes such a claim.

Now readers unfamiliar with my tendency to get off-subject might be asking, What does skateboarding and Zeitgeist have to do with whether or not atheism is scientifically tenable? The answer is that the aforementioned scenario establishes a methodology by which we might reasonably decide whether or not a given claim is scientifically tenable, and that's whether or not it fits the observable data.

Beginning with the 1960 film Inherit the Wind, pop culture has routinely bombarded us with false dichotomies depicting atheists, skeptics and freethinkers as rooted in logic, science and
reason, with theists, believers and dogmatics depicted as guided by myth, dogma and fantasy (like most false claims, there is a grain of truth to this one). Atheists generally pride themselves on what they perceive as strict
adherence to rationalism, assuming that their belief system either
stems from or is supported by empirical evidence, while simultaneously
deriding theistic ideas as unscientific, unfounded or illogical. Recurring caricatures are the mindless zealot and the faithless scientist, but in fact we're all in the same boat of utter inability where no human being whether scientist, pastor, atheist, believer or otherwise can empirically validate anything about the existence of God or life after death.

As such the question bears careful repeating: Is atheism scientifically tenable?

As with any argument, first we need some working definitions. I've no doctorate, but to me a claim is scientifically tenable if it reasonably proceeds from established facts or theories in the absence of contradictory, observable data; in other words, if it fits the observable data. We've established before that truth corresponds to actuality. That oxygen consists of three hydrogen atoms, that our sun revolves around Earth, that human DNA molecules display right-handed chirality or that the human retina can detect electromagnetic frequencies greater than 1200nm are all scientifically untenable claims, because contradictory, observable data refutes each of them. On the other hand, that life evolved over time, that the universe had a beginning, that the continents used to be a single land mass or that we'll one day find a cure for cancer are all scientifically tenable claims; the plausibility of each claim is at least tolerated and at best verified by observable data, and they reasonably proceed from established facts and theories in the absence of contradictory, observable data. But do you notice a pattern in each of these examples? They are all verifiable through empiricism.

Arriving at a working definition of atheism is a bit more difficult. I was just on a blog where I noticed a comment posted by somebody who described his or herself as, "A scientist and an atheist who refuses to believe anything, no matter how obvious, without direct evidence." For the sake of this piece, let's define atheism not so much as the obviously scientifically untenable 'hard' or 'strong' atheism which overtly denies Gods, spirits and all things supernatural, but what could be called 'liberal' or 'mild' atheism, perhaps interchangeable with skepticism or philosophical naturalism, whose less-exclusive creed is that all observable phenomenon can be explained by natural causes, and that beliefs which cannot be supported by observable data must be rejected.

Humans instinctively want to know their origin, or potential cause. One of the first questions a child asks a parent is from whence it came, and let me say preemptively that this is not a pitch to persuade you of the First-Cause argument. However, when presented with the idea that the child came from the parent, the inquisitive child usually asks where the parent came from, with the process continuing on and on. It's reasonable that the first human or humans may have come from somewhere, and such extends to the universe. Prior to twentieth-century astronomy, one theory was that the universe itself was uncaused and had simply always been here. With the advance of science in that century came observable, testable data from esteemed professionals like Albert Einstein, Edwin Hubble and others indicating just the opposite: that the universe itself had once been in a state of non-existence, that it had something comparable to a beginning.

When pondering the beginning, a natural question arises, Could the universe have a cause? If so, what might this cause be? These are not child's questions. It is a scientifically tenable assumption that some conscious thing or some unconscious process caused the universe to begin, but stating whether the cause of the universe was natural or divine is simply outside the jurisdiction of observable data.

The reasoning does have the illusion of validity. After all, regarding once-mysterious phenomena, we have replaced supernatural explanations with natural ones hundreds of thousands of times, right? So isn't it extremely likely that we will ultimately discern a natural cause for the universe, and not a supernatural one? Although this argument is true, and it does in fact appear likely that we'll ultimately discover 'natural' causes for the first replicator or the beginning of the universe, I object to the false dichotomy. Natural does not imply godless, yet, many atheists jump curiously to the conclusion that there is no need for God, because 'natural' processes can account for the current panoply of life and all the other things we don't understand. Such is a horrible argument for atheism.

That theism is scientifically untenable is old hat and of course exploited to no end by critics. What's less commonly understood is that if theism is scientifically untenable, then so is atheism by default. Although there is no observable data which directly contradicts a natural godless cause for the universe, the belief that the universe had a natural godless cause cannot be proven by observable data. Unless they wish to make appeals to special pleading, those atheists or philosophical naturalists who wish to maintain intellectual integrity should stick to their guns by rejecting a belief that cannot be supported by observable data.

The next logical question becomes which idea better explains the range of observable data – and that, of course, is a subjective entirely.

Indeed, the whole world is pink through rose-colored glasses.

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3 Responses

  1. I call myself an ‘atheist’ in the same sense most people call themselves ‘agnostic’. I know some notions of God are ruled out by evidence and reason, but others aren’t (at least to my knowledge). I also do not claim that there is no proof or disproof for this or that god. For me, atheism is not having the ability to take the intellectual position of theism with acceptable confidence. It also means forming beliefs, attitudes, and plans without reference to any supposed gods. Most atheists, though, or at least the most vocal ones I hear about, define themselves in terms of absolute denial of gods’ existence or epistemic rejection of the idea of gods.

    With the advance of science in that century came observable, testable data from esteemed professionals like Albert Einstein, Edwin Hubble and others indicating just the opposite: that the universe itself had once been in a state of non-existence, that it had something comparable to a beginning.

    I agree with the latter but I do not understand the former scientific indication you speak of. How does any data in any way imply the universe was in a “state of nonexistence” at some point in time? Isn’t the entire notion of “time” defined in terms of the universe’s manifest existence?
    As for the word ‘natural’ – I think this term, in many contexts, strictly means completely reducible to / describable by matter, energy, and physical information. If God is more than physical, then God is not ‘natural’, in this sense, but ‘supernatural’. Thus a purely natural world would imply a godless one.

  2. For me, atheism is not having the ability to take the intellectual position of theism with acceptable confidence.

    Makes sense, and makes me wonder what you mean by “intellectual position of theism.”

    If God is more than physical, then God is not ‘natural’, in this sense, but ‘supernatural’. Thus a purely natural world would imply a godless one.

    I disagree. When you say, “If God is more than physical,” the following should read, “…then God is more than ‘natural.'” That God is more than physical does not entail that God is not physical. That God is more than natural does entail that God is not also natural. What if all that is natural is God? As in pantheism? Also, even if God is “more than physical,” God can still be natural. God could consist of all that is, period. What is natural and what is supernatural could all be part and parcel of God. Further, a purely natural world does not imply a godless one because a purely natural world is exactly what we would expect under certain definitions of God. And for reasons discussed above.
    And the universe was in a state of nonexistence meaning that it came into existence. Perhaps the universe existed in some different form before the ultimate beginning. Saying the universe was in a state of nonexistence in the sense that it had a beginning.

  3. “What if all that is natural is God? As in pantheism?” “God could consist of all that is, period. What is natural and what is supernatural could all be part and parcel of God.” “…a purely natural world is exactly what we would expect under certain definitions of God.”
    I’m having trouble understanding what this list accomplishes. Your point seems to be that nobody can argue successfully against every possible concept of God. If this is your point, then yes—I suppose that, every time someone questions one use of the word “God,” you can just offer up another one. But at that point you’d only be defending the flexibility of the word, and I’m not sure that’s what discussions like this are really about.
    Your original post seems to be about the dangers of accepting the primacy of “observable data.” This seems to be the basic message of your Public Challenge to Atheists
    as well, but what does it mean, really? That “observable data” (that is, objective real-world evidence) should be demoted as a principle of reasoning?
    You’re right, for what it’s worth: if you accept the primacy of “observable data,” then you’ll be stuck when people claim things for which there can be no observable data. But I prefer to look at it this way: if you accept things for which there is no observable data, then you’re stuck with an alternative principle of reasoning which trumps observable data (“revelation,” I guess).
    I know where I want to be stuck: there is only the one observable world, to which the “observable data” principle is answerable, but there are many incompatible principles of “revelation” (you gesture at a couple of them in your list), among which one may choose as one likes; and I don’t think the truth or falsity of something rests, fundamentally, on choices I’m free to make.
    The idea that “atheists or philosophical naturalists” have compromised their intellectual integrity (by definition!) sounds a little bit wistful. The “observable data” principle of reasoning has such an impressive track record (at least in the world of observable things) that it must be comforting (to a believer of things-for-which-there-can-be-no-observable-data) to just know that those principles are incapable of endorsing the most important knowledge of all. Whatever it is.

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