Arguing with Lawrence about matters that don’t require the use of bunsen burners, the Hubble telescope or integrated calculus, is increasingly proving to be more than a bit sisyphean. The guy might be smart on matters scientific, but on everything else, he’s downright incapable of learning. As others have already written on his inimitable incoherence, I will, in this piece, skip his mistreatment of Kim Davis and Planned Parenthood, and concentrate on his central claim, which is that “all scientists should be militant atheists”.
Lawrence Krauss, as you might recall, is the author of A Universe From Nothing, where he purports to have solved how universes can come from nothing, only to say that ‘nothing’ is actually something, and in fact turns out to be a whole lot of something from which universes can emerge. That book itself is enough evidence that this guy is a hack. I mean, if I sincerely proposed that cars can come from nothing, only to say that by ‘nothing’ I actually meant large production assembly lines, I’ll be put into a mental asylum.
I won’t bother to link to his intellectually sloppy diatribe, you can google that for yourself, but let’s allow him to make his case and see if, like he claims, “all scientists should be militant atheists”.
So far as I can see (and, indeed, one would have to look past Himalayas of play-ground rhetoric) his primary argument for the claim is that science does not — indeed, cannot — have “sacred” ideas, as everything should be open to criticism, thusly somewhat precluding, by fiat, subscription to any religious idea. Therefore holding religious views alongside scientific ones (the case for a religious scientist) is to be cognitively dissonant at such an epic scale as to be laughable and worthy of not only dismissal, but outright derision.
Of course, Lawrence makes no distinctions — and is likely ignorant of the distinctions — between methodological and metaphysical naturalism. A fatal error, as we will see.
Since science is the study of nature, it is by it’s very nature methodologically naturalistic in that it needs to presuppose naturalism to work. That is because in science, for every phenomena under study, the required explanans is a natural one, and this axiomatically rules out the supernatural from the getgo. Again, that is simply how science is done, else it’ll cease to work and render us unable to build upon knowledge already acquired. Because a supernatural explanans, unlike a natural one, wouldn’t be within our ability to understand, let alone control, a scientist needs to find natural causes against which he can test and compare other natural facts about our universe. So, every scientist, to do science, needs to adhere to a strictly naturalistic methodology. That is simply what science requires — that scientists, to put it trivially, use the scientific method.
Lawrence, however, does a little sleight of hand, citing that very requirement and extrapolating it to argue for the philosophical position known as metaphysical naturalism, which is the position that only the natural, or in his case, only the physical, exists. This is, needless to say, illogical, since one simply cannot infer from study of the natural that the supernatural does not exist.
So, his conclusion that ‘metaphysical naturalism’ — atheism — is true, or that it’s a view that scientists ought to hold (making them, of course, atheists) is non sequitur.
Or to spell it out in simpler terms (let’s see if you can immediately spot the illogic): As per Lawrence, belief in naturalism is the logical entailment of presupposing naturalism to do science!
Again, here is what he’s saying, further simplified: To be a scientist, you have to believe science is the only way to describe reality.
Or here, again we can go on and simplify Lawrence’s claim until his logical misstep becomes clear to even the most moronic of individuals:
Scientist = Someone who believes science is the only way to describe reality.
Of course one could be pedantic and point out the self-refuting nature of that statement in that it is a statement that purports to describe reality but isn’t itself knowledge that was acquired through science, but let’s overlook such abstract arguments for now.
So far so good?
It is but incumbent then for us to investigate what it means to hold the view that science is the ‘only way to describe reality’. And I’d say the best way to do this is to look at the nuggets of wisdom these “militant atheist-scientists” impart.
On meaning and purpose:
“the more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless.” — Steven Weinberg, scientist; militant atheist.
“[The world] is physical and purposeless” — Jerry Coyne, scientist; militant atheist.
“DNA just is. And we dance to its music” — Richard Dawkins, scientist; militant atheist.
“Nihilism—even my “nice nihilism” is a public relations nightmare. Most of my fellow travellers think that if the scientific worldview saps morality of its truth, correctness, justification.. They might be right. It’s an empirical matter.” — Alex Rosenberg, Philosopher, Militant Atheist.
“The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” — Richard Dawkins, scientist; militant atheist.
On freedom of the will:
“Sam Harris says the concept of free will is incoherent. Humans are not free and no sense can be given to the idea that we might be” — Paul Pardi, on (scientist and militant atheist) Sam Harris’ book Free Will.
“..but in the end we are simply federations of molecules, tissues, and neurons whose morphology, physiology, and behavior are determined by interactions between genes and environment..” — Jerry Coyne, scientist; militant atheist.
So, to be a “scientist“, these are, from the horses’ mouth, the logical entailments:
1. The universe is “pointless“, “purposeless“, any meaning we can derive from this “pointless” and “purposeless” universe can only be subjective (“personal” for Jerry Coyne), and ultimately as valid — that is to say, equally as “pointless” — as anyone else’s subjectively derived meaning.
2. We have no free-will — every belief we have and choice we make had been determined by temporally prior states that are essentially traceable to some initial state moments before the big-bang. In other words, it’s all an elaborate kabuki dance, as none of us are free to choose or believe anything.
3. Morality is an illusion; there is no good and evil. These feelings of right and wrong are merely illusory; sentimental predispositions that are the result of our particular evolutionary history.
Yet, suddenly — suddenly! — when it comes to religion, evil suddenly can exist, as long as it’s in the form of religion, of course!
Suddenly, we have purpose; to point out religion is evil.
Suddenly, there are moral absolutes! — religion is absolutely immoral.
And suddenly, meaning can be made to be objective, as the meaning derived from religion is often said by them to be objectively wrong.
And yet, according to Lawrence, we, the indoctrinated sheeple, seem to be afflicted with some debilitating form of cognitive dissonance.
That above is an atheist catchphrase that seems to never die, despite that it can very easily be demonstrated to be missing the salient point.
We’re not suggesting that people will be raping and pillaging with wild abandon the moment theistic ideas are jettisoned. Rather, we are pointing out the contradiction between what they say and what they believe.
They say they reject theism because of the lack of evidence. They believe absence of evidence is evidence of absence because of a prior metaphysical commitment to naturalism. In fact most intellectual atheists — or the more reflective of them, at least — admittedly subscribe to a naturalism of one sort or another.
Now, of course, with respect to the evidence for theism, I disagree, and that above is fine as far as it goes.
Until they deign to educate us on the immorality of our beliefs. Because the problem is that on naturalism, which is on which their atheism is predicated, good and evil simply do not exist.
What a naturalist sees as evil is really just a confluence of atoms that he happens to find personally distasteful. And he happens to find them personally distasteful because he’s been hardwired by evolution to do so, viz. his feelings of personal distaste, or any opinion he may have on what or what is not moral for that matter, are merely dispositions he had inherited that are the residue of an evolutionary history.
In other words, they are illusory.
He only has these set of moral opinions because they are, by mere chance, what made his ancestors, on the aggregate, survive. It thusly becomes not an objective fact of reality that, say, murdering babies for fun is wrong. In fact we can imagine an alien race having evolved in a way that would make them think that that’s a completely moral thing to do. Or a more terrestrial example would be the members of ISIS, say, who would opine to be moral that which we find immoral. And who are we to say they are wrong? Who are we to say they are evil? After all, these “evil” people are merely acting in accordance with how the atoms that comprise them happen to be arranged, and who, given naturalism, can say that one particular confluence of atoms is to be preferred over another?
So when an atheist-naturalist natters on about the ‘evils of religion’, it is a matter of logic that he might as well be nattering on about his choice of drapery, or about his choice of textile, or about the superiority of vanilla over chocolate. Because religion, or anything else for that matter, cannot possibly be evil in a universe where evil does not exist.
..because: these types of churchians (ex-pastor pictured above):
“I’ve been a deep believer my whole life. 18 years as a Southern Baptist. More than 40 years as a mainline Protestant. I’m an ordained pastor. But it’s just stopped making sense to me. You see people doing terrible things in the name of religion, and you think: ‘Those people believe just as strongly as I do. They’re just as convinced as I am.’ And it just doesn’t make sense anymore… If a plane crashes, and one person survives, everyone thanks God…..God saved her for a reason!’ Do we not realize how cruel that is? Do we not realize how cruel it is to say that if God had a purpose for that person, he also had a purpose in killing everyone else on that plane? And a purpose in starving millions of children? A purpose in slavery and genocide?… You say there is a purpose to their suffering. And that’s just cruel.”
His complete ignorance of key concepts of Christianity, it’s difference to mere churchianity, and of basic philosophical concerns in ethics and morality, which in no small part is why he’s able to readily say what he said, can actually be excused, because, like most everyone else, they are matters of which he knows not a single whit, but it necessarily calls into question the competency of the church, where people like him — who have a kind of faith that is miles wide and yet mere inches deep — can be ‘pastors’ to begin with.
Why should it surprise him that people do terrible things in the name of religion when it has been written that they would? And that they do, how is that an indictment of religion, or of Christianity in particular, and not of the people themselves, or of people in general? On this score, It would — it should — suffice to point out to him that there’s a difference between Christianity and mere churchianity.
He sees an implication where simply none exists, viz. he regards the actions (or the theological ignorance) of the religion’s self-proclaimed adherents as the standard against which the religion (or in this case, Christianity) should be judged.
But that is simply illogical, not to mention, un-biblical, since, contrary to what he surmises, it’s a confirmable fact that religious hypocrisy is one of the more pertinent themes of the bible:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ — Matthew 7 : 23-27
“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” — Matthew 23:13
He (as do I, in fact) rightly sees cruelty in someone who pontificates on the nature of a divine plan that involves the death of the innocent. But that the average churchian is too unsophisticated to know any better than to blather on about things of which he has no idea should have been of no surprise, and should have again been, rather than an indictment of Christianity, a testament to the every-man’s ineptitude on matters theological. After all, he is a long-time pastor who ought to have known that theological consistency is not to be expected from your average churchian.
But the salient question is why this ex-pastor saw these things as forming a disproof for the truth of Christianity.
While a more salient one still, is how this man, whose understanding of Christianity barely even rises to the level of Narnia, and who cannot rationally be said to grasp fundamental aspects of Christian theology, was once a pastor.
And it’ll be less useful to call into question the rational basis for his rejection of Christianity than it would be to use him as reminder for the church that they are doing something wrong, but for which the remedy is simple: equip your churchians, and especially your leaders, with knowledge of the relevant philosophy.
Else, it’ll be for you — for us — the way of the dodo.
Unfortunately, it is not the God of classical theism but a demiurge that we find modern atheists most concerned with. A demiurge would not be the source of all existence, but merely a cosmic craftsman, or, as it’s more conventionally understood, a being — an intelligent designer — simply endowed with superhuman powers not unlike the characters inhabiting comicbooks and theaters.
The analogies skeptics use give them away. This god, to them, is no different from the tooth fairy, father christmas, zeus, or any of the other thousands of gods now in the dustbin of history. None of them seem to understand, much less have written about, the God as understood from the scholastic age to Aquinas. And writers like Dawkins, Sam Harris and the Hitch, can only reasonably claim to have laid out arguments against a demiurge, a cosmic and malevolent despot, who has not a whit in common to the God of Aristotle.
Intelligent people rightly find illogical the proposition that such a being (or beings) exists. And the problem is that both the religious and the skeptic have little time to parse through the metaphysical obscurities — or, as Dennet would say, “deepities” — of theology in order to get a better conceptual framework with which to view God. Unsurprisingly they are left ill-prepared to see Him as nothing more than a divine tinkerer, or, more famously, as Paley’s watchmaker. This is why we often see a theology that is more akin to that of Pat Robertson and Kirk Cameron than to that of Alvin Plantinga or Edward Feser; this is why we see intelligent design theorists claiming that irreducible complexity points to divine handiwork; this is why we see Christians and skeptics alike who think Darwin’s theory to be theism’s coup de grace.
The ill-informed religious laymen will keep providing the skeptics with strawmen to burn down, it seems.
I fear it will take a lot to upset this cycle of attack and defense of these army of strawmen. Especially in this age of twitter and facebook, where information must be bite-sized, and therefore almost always ephemeral and useless, to be worth listening to. Scarcely anyone has the time, nor even the aptitude or desire, to read theological treatises on religion that expound on the God of the old scolastics. While much of the abled seem content to resigning themselves to their ivory towers.
I have no doubt that we Christians are at the losing end of a cultural war. And I fear that in a post-Christian era, once the illogic of humanism becomes apparent (since a humanism predicated on naturalism needs to eschew the annoyingly amorphous concept of objective morality, without which the whole humanistic enterprise can be said to be floating on thin air) morality will be Nietzschean in its manifestations.
Which is to say the shit will hit the fan.
Can we, as Christians, really even doubt this? — it has all been written.
But hope springs anew, since it has also been written that every knee shall bow. So perhaps even the most Dawkinsian will, at some point — and whether he desired it or not — bend.
So, perhaps, a less charitable, smug, seemingly juvenile yet inarguably fitting response to the skeptic would be to say, in the words of Vox Day:
‘You can do it now, or you can do it later. But bow, you will.’
A passerby courteously suggests that I may have, in this post, spoken out of the lower part of my alimentary canal (read: ass):
“Miguel, with all due respect, you’re talking out of your ass.”
Contra to my claim in the post, passerby says Aquinas does in fact use the idea “everything has a cause” as a starting premise for his cosmological argument, and is therefore open to the ‘what caused God?’ rebuttal.
Of course, Aquinas does no such thing.
Passerby quotes Aquinas himself to show that I have indeed been articulating out of my own posterior, but I won’t bore you with that, since none of what he quotes from Aquinas means what he says they mean.
And, of course, because I very much doubt passerby, or anyone else for that matter, will go through the trouble of scanning the Summa Theologica to see what Aquinas himself argues, these short quotes from the pages of Stanford’s philosophical encyclopedia that detail the history of the cosmological argument should suffice to show who between us is in fact verbalizing from his anus:
“Thomas Aquinas held that among the things whose existence needs explanation are contingent beings that depend for their existence upon other beings..
Aquinas argued that we need a causal explanation for things in motion, things that are caused, and contingent beings.
Once Aquinas concludes that necessary beings exist, he then goes on to ask whether these beings have their existence from themselves or from another. If from another, then we have an unsatisfactory infinite regress of explanations. Hence, there must be something whose necessity is uncaused.”
That all can be found here: http://stanford.io/1h5F2Gk
There it is from Stanford’s online Philosophical Encyclopedia itself.
Unfortunately for passerby, Aquinas, and no theologian in the history of Christendom for that matter, argues that “everything has a cause”. Rather, what they argue is that whatever begins to exist has a cause for it’s existence, or what ever is contingent has a cause.
So, yes, Sam Harris was strawmanning the cosmological argument. Deal with it already.
That’s all really quite simple to understand. You’d think it would all be something easily fathomable by the people who “fucking love science”.
There is much nonsense about all this being evidence of God’s non-existence to be heard from one side to numb the skull and to make one epileptically flail about. Where was God, they ask, when it all happened, or why wasn’t he around? Why is it that they require God to attend to their moment to moment happiness like some genie in a lamp as though everyone ought to be in a state of eternal bliss if He existed is my question.
The other side fares no better, unfortunately. One hears a lot — a rather fortunate lot — insensitively extolling God’s love for them, evidenced apparently by the fact that they were spared! God must not have loved those who were killed, is what’s being unwittingly said. While there are those who, in Pat Robertson-esque fashion, claim it all to be divine retribution of some sort, which makes one wonder what exactly these victims did, or why exactly they deserved to die, or, more importantly, why exactly they deserved to die in such a horrible manner. I mean, the Canaanites, on whom God exacted divine justice according to scripture, only beheaded their own children as a sacrifice to their gods — mundane stuff, I know!
Why do these things — these horrible, horrible things — happen, anyway?
Theologically speaking, it’s just that they do. The world is the way it is, operating with regularity. Typhoons, earthquakes, fires, and what have you, are really just products of the world’s — actually, universe’s — regularity. Things bump into each other, and that’s all well and fine, until people get in between those which bump into each other and end up, well, dead, in the process.
If the world didn’t operate with regularity, then guess what? Morality becomes impossible. How so? Think of it this way: moral decision-making requires weighing options and choosing that which produces the best (read:the most moral) outcome. Thusly, if the world operated non-regularly, then there’s no point in deciding anything. I mean, what’s the point in doing good if it ends up making people the worst for it; what’s the point in helping if by doing so you’re actually, um, not helping, as will be the case in a world operating less than rationally.
In other words, stuff (or shit, if you prefer) just happens because that’s how it must be. That’s all; that’s it. It is certainly the more theologically parsimonious explanation compared to the nuttier ones above. And that stuff of this sort happens is hardly evidence for God’s non-existence, as the atheist keeps (rather stupidly, in my opinion) claiming.
The hilarious thing about radical atheists nowadays is their pathetic, shallow, and ridiculously paltry understanding of not only religion, to which their attention is devoted, but also of history, from which they draw the conclusion that religion is evil.
Take this poorly informed chap, Poch Suzara, for instance, over at some other blog, who starts off his post with such remarkable drivel:
“Throughout History many people have been killed for, or in, the name of someone’s God. Most Religions ‘know’ that their Religion is the only one true and correct Religion and that all others are a threat to their ‘God’, or at least to their Religion, and should be done away with, or ‘converted’ to their Religion.”
You’d think that after the bait he’s given above he’d be subsequently swarming us with sound evidence to support his claims, yet we soon find out, however, he neither does any of that, nor does he even make an attempt to. Rather, he gives us a list which he matter-of-factly names as one that is of “people who probably or actually have been killed in the name of Religion.” (I removed the non-Christian related):
“1. All who were killed by the Inquisition, which was operated by the Catholic Church and also by some governments.
2. All who were killed by God as shown in the Holy Bible (I have seen reference to over 2 million people who were killed by or under the supposed orders of God. I did not add them up, yet. The so-called bad guy Satan is only credited with killing a few people, at least in the Holy Bible. Makes one think, if you are a Freethinker.)
3. All who died in the “Crusades” (Hundreds of thousands if not millions) (Christians and Muslims)
4. American Indians killed for being Pagans by the so-called Freedom of Religion loving Christians (Millions to tens of millions of people)
5. Christians killed by Hitler even thought Hitler was a Christian (Catholic).
6. Freemasons killed by Hitler
7. Hatuey killed by Christians right after the discovery of the New World.
8. Huguenots killed by Roman Catholics in Florida in 1565 in the First Battle for Religious Freedom in America.
9. Irish Catholics and Protestants killed in their fight for whatever they were fighting over.
10. Jacques DeMolay and other members of the Knights Templar murdered by the Catholic Church.
11. Jews killed by Hitler (Said to be over six million, but who knows. Perhaps more, perhaps less)
12. Knights Templar members who were Burned at the Stake by the Catholic Church.
13. Salem Witches
14. Snake handlers who expect God to protect them from rattlesnakes. (God may look after fools and drunks but He only goes so far. Use you God given brain.)
15. Witches who were hung or Burned at the Stake by Christians and perhaps other Religions.
16. Others were not killed but were merely imprisoned and tortured in the name of God. Galileo is an example.”
The really sad — or amusing (whichever the case may be) — thing about what Poch said above is that it’s not satire; no, he’s actually serious. That slab of words I’ve quoted from him above, that was — he was — serious. My estimation of him would be higher in fact had I simply thought him to be disingenuous, as some are wont to be, but no, that’s not the case; he really, truly, believes that shit.
1. Let’s grant him the common tropes, fine; the Inquisition — the medieval, Spanish and Portugal one — the deaths of which we unfortunately find out amount to only 6,000, despite that we are usually told — by atheists mostly — it amounted to millions upon millions.
2. Our ill-informed historian, Poch, goes on to count the one’s “killed by God in the bible”, despite presumably believing in exactly zero of what’s written there. O.K., fine, let’s grant him that, shaky as it may be.
3. Then the Crusades. Ah, one of the usual tropes which nobody — nobody who knows something about history, that is — should grant to our historian given that it was done more for material, rather than religious, considerations. And it would be utterly futile to argue otherwise. The impetus for the Crusades to the East was even the Muslim’s aggressive conquests of Christian Land — it was a response to it.
4. American Indians were killed for their land not their paganism, so shoot that.
5, 6 and 11, are hilariously all about Hitler having killed someone or some group of people, which should apparently be counted against religion by some convoluted logic about Hitler being Catholic. This is, of course, outright idiocy, and therefore, unfortunately for our historian Poch, not counted. If there were any evidence indicating Poch to be an impartial historian, these delusions about Hitler having killed in Gods name subverts them.
7. Hatuey was killed, again, not because of religion, but because of his anti-colonialism. Not counted.
8. Presumably the St. Bartholomew’s day massacre is of what he’s speaking here, where the Catholic church had about 10,000 Protestants killed, seeking to rid the city of them. While I’m tempted to defend this one as just another case of power-hungry ruling elites behaving badly, what the heck, I’ll be generous and give our historian the 10,000.
9. The Protestant and Catholic wars of Ireland were not religiously motivated, although they were often justified in those terms to unite people. The war was scarcely about a theological disagreement on transubstantation, despite that that’s what the radical atheists would have us believe, and was mainly about British colonialism, which the Protestants supported and the Catholics opposed.
10 and 12. Jacks Demolay and the orders of the Knights Templar were arrested and killed because France’s King Phillip was an asshole who happened to be financially indebted to them. Not counted.
13 and 15. The Salem Witch Trials — while we’re led to believe thousands upon thousands of witches were hanged, the actual number is 35.
14. Snake handlers who expect protection from God but get bit instead, have apparently died, if Poch were to be believed, in the name of God. Again, nothing to see or argue against here, just more logical dim-wittery.
15. Galileo was tortured by the Catholic Church, he says. Fine, plus one for you.
What are we left with?
Well, even after being much too generous to him, all in all it amounts to about 2,016,036 deaths — that’s even granting his 2 million biblical deaths, which I don’t even think for one moment is accurate in the slightest.
First, some trivia from Scot Atran, who, according to his Wiki page, “is an American and French anthropologist who has studied violence and interviewed terrorists” — in other words, somone who, unlike Poch Suzara, actually knows shit:
“The Encyclopedia of Wars surveyed 1,763 violent conflicts across history; only 123 (7 percent) were religious.[…]Indeed, inclusive concepts such as “humanity” arguably emerged with the rise of universal religions. “
In other words: sorry Poch 😦
Now, for comparison, let’s take a look this time at the deaths that are causally connected to an atheistic worldview:
For fun, let’s take what University of Hawaii political scientist Rudolph J. Rummel claims is the number of all people that have been killed in history — 284,638,000.
Now, for more fun, let’s take the number of people who’ve been killed only within the last century — 151,491,000.
Now, to make it REALLY fun — gobs and gobs! — let’s take the number of people who’ve been killed by atheistic communism — about 110,000,000!
That would, very amusingly, make 1 out of 3 people that’s been killed in history, killed by an ideology that actively promoted atheism and aggressively subverted religion — and that’s only in the LAST 100 YEARS!
Poch thusly ends his post with this little gem:
“Religions are very effective in enforcing population control. Perhaps they encourage ‘be fruitful and multiply’ so that there will be more people for them to kill.”
Uh, right.. pfffttt..buwahahahahah!!
Sorry, Mr. Poch Suzara, but you lose. Play harder next time.
I was listening to a discussion a while back between a Christian and an atheist, and the topic of the resurrection came up, the evidence for which the atheist pointed out was scant and insufficient for him to change his mind.
The atheist then gave a Russell-esque teapot analogy to explain how he thinks the evidence for the resurrection must be treated; he asks us to ponder on the consequences should he try to convince someone to believe in the death from which he had been subsequently resurrected. He says it will be –or should be– impossible for him to be taken seriously, notwithstanding any good number of eyewitnesses who will willingly attest to the claim. In other words, it’s the distinctly Humean inclination to dismiss remarkable claims unsupported by remarkable evidence; it’s David Hume’s argument against miracles all over again. It was a bit frustrating that the Christian interlocutor wasn’t, in my opinion, able to answer him on this to the audience’s satisfaction, because, not only was it tangential to the discussion but also because of the time constraints –which the host was keen to point out as the show was winding down.
The problem with the atheist’s analogy is that it’s a false one; it’s not parallel to Jesus’s resurrection. In fact, here below, I’ll take the liberty of modifying it to be more analogous to Jesus’s resurrection so we can see if, in this more accurate form, Christians can still be accused of credulity.
So, are we justified in believing person X’s claim of having been bodily resurrected, given the following background information? :
1.) God exists (separate arguments for this).
2.) X had previously made outlandish claims of being the son of God, the messiah, and so forth.
3.) X also previously made implications of his own resurrection event (John 2:19 “Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”)
4.) X had been, without question, killed and was subsequently buried.
5.) The people around X –a lot of whom were previously sceptical of his claims to divinity– themselves claim to have seen his resurrected body and are now willing to die –a lot have in fact died– a very gruesome death for said claim.
5.1) Eyewitnesses number in the hundreds, and the appearances were to individuals and groups of people (which kinda renders the hallucination hypothesis a bit effete –no, completely effete.)
*All of these points about Jesus, aside from 1 — which we can give separate arguments for– are historically accepted facts, and, by themselves, don’t make any supernatural claims. In other words, in the context of the historicity of the man Jesus, they’re not controversial and are in fact accepted by most historians.
**Had the atheist been keen to lay out this precise analogy instead of the puerile one he opted for, he would have made more sense and would have at least been fair with respect to the resurrection.
Now, should X call person Y and say “hey man, I died and God raised me from the dead to validate all those previous claims I made“, given the above background information, will Y be justified in believing him?
The answer to me seems to be a resounding yes –given the background information, the most likely hypothesis is that God raised X from the dead.
The reason, I think, that some people will deny this is that they initially deny 1 (God exists) because of the presupposition that naturalism is true, or because they haven’t fully thought about and therefore haven’t realized the impotence of competing hypotheses (which I may go more into detail at another post).
In the subsequent posts he’s written in defense of the ‘evil-god challenge’, which he previously thought was a knock-down argument against theism, it’s pretty clear Stephen’s now being willfully obtuse.
“[Dr. Craig is] playing the skeptical card, insisting that empirical observation can give us no grounds for supposing there’s no good or evil god. This is (a) implausible, and (b) received no decent supporting argument. In addition, (c) even if Craig could establish that kind of skepticism, the onus would STILL be on him to show why belief in Craig’s good God is significantly more reasonable than (the absurd) belief in an evil God. “ [Since both concepts are equally plausible, they are both implausible.]
Stephen is a good philosopher. Obviously. You don’t get to enjoy the type of academic tenure Stephen does without having proven your worth. So it’s rather infuriating that he’s arguing this way, which to me seems like pure sophistry. He needs to make up his mind on exactly what he’s saying, because the above contradicts the other things he said on the matter, like:
“Again no. I don’t suppose the moral properties of god are inferred on empirical-inductive grounds. Obviously.”
Then why argue that good God is implausible based on empirical observations of “gratuitous” evil, Stephen?
Then Stephen goes on to say:
“But you’d better have a justification for that radical and highly counter-intutive degree of skepticism (that what we observe can gives us no clue AT ALL about the moral properties of god/s – good, bad or otherwise). Craig didn’t.”
Oh, but he did! Craig argued that, given our epistemic position, we are unable to infer the moral character of God through empirical observations of the world!
Firstly, Stephen, basing your argument on what some Christians believe is weak since the theologians you’re arguing against don’t hold to such a belief.
Secondly, it has already been argued that, given our epistemic position, we are not capable of ascertaining future outcomes bearing these kinds of complexities. Since YOU’RE the one making a positive claim that we can, then the burden is on YOU to show why God cannot have morally sufficient reasons for allowing evil.
You couldn’t have possibly missed it, so I’m wondering why you’re acting as though you did. Anyway, to repeat Craig’s argument:
“Suppose we concede for the sake of argument that an evil Creator/Designer exists. Since this being is evil, that implies that he fails to discharge his moral obligations. But where do those come from? How can this evil god have duties to perform which he is violating? Who forbids him to do the wrong things that he does? Immediately, we see that such an evil being cannot be supreme: there must be a being who is even higher than this evil god and is the source of the moral obligations which he chooses to flout, a being which is absolute goodness Himself. In other words, if Law’s evil god exists, then [good] God exists. “
Now, Stephen, it’s like this: Craig is arguing that objective moral values can only be grounded in God. We DON’T have immoral obligations, we have moral ones. So if you’re a moral realist, which you admit in your writings that you are, then those objective moral values prove that God, not anti-god, exists.
Now, you can say this is all poppycock. Fine. But what you cannot say is that no sufficient argument has been made, and so you win. When presented with a deductive argument, you have to deal with the premises to show how it’s false. And, no, saying that some theologians don’t agree with Craig’s moral argument is not an argument. If you don’t make your own argument, then bolstering your non-existent argument with an appeal to authority will be doubly ridiculous.
What irks me is that when Stephen is pressed on the seeming contradictions of what he’s been saying of late, he’ll respond with something akin to “you just misunderstood my argument!”. Then he’ll go on to explain the “argument” and affirm one’s done nothing of the sort.