Archive for ‘Atheism’

August 5th, 2014

Q&A 42: Cultural Contingency and Religion – Causation or Correlation?

by Max Andrews

Q&A GraphicQuestion:

Would you be interested in putting together a blog response to this?

Jonathan D.

Answer:

Jonathan,

I recently listened to a paper on this topic whilst at the Tyndale Conference in Cambridge in July. Although the presenter was approaching this issue of cultural contingency of religion (or God being a “cultural chauvinist”) from a Reformed Epistemologist perspective. The paper is titled “Religious diversity and epistemic luck” by Max Baker-Hytch (PhD Philosophy, Oxford) and was published in the International Journal for Philosophy of Religion. For a more serious response and approach to the issue please check out Max’s article.

My response, I think, doesn’t let the atheist’s argument to get off the ground. The whole argument in moot, in my opinion. I think Max [Baker-Hytch] is much more charitable, which is needed on certain points.

Before I get to my quick and simple response I wanted to offer a brief commentary on a few irks about the video. At one point a “theist” (even the video maker didn’t get this one right–Hinduism is polytheistic–close but off by a few million). I find it hard not to think that this category error was intentional just to add to the confusion and bickering amongst the theists. It’s just disingenuous or ignorant.

February 26th, 2014

The Atheist Argument from Fine-Tuning is too Coarse

by Max Andrews

Believe it or not an atheist friend of mine has presented an argument from fine-tuning to demonstrate that God doesn’t exist. I think there are several different problem with the argument but I’ll be as charitable as possible to my anonymous friend @SkepticismFirst (SF).

Fine-tuning is something I’ve invested quite a bit of research in. My MA (philosophy) thesis was on the Fine-Tuning of Nomic Behavior in Multiverse Scenarios and I’m continuing that research right now in my PhD (University of Edinburgh). So, I’ve written quite extensively on this issue. Here are a few links to get the fine-tuning argument presented by the proponents of fine-tuning:

February 5th, 2014

Guest Atheist: Why I Engage With Theists

by Max Andrews

I’m often asked why I engage with theists. When I was invited to write this guest post, I thought a lot about what I wanted to say. I think what I want is to focus on an analysis of these words: ‘engage’, ‘theists’, and ‘why’ .

Beyond merely arguing with theists, talking to them, or talking *at* them, I engage with them. To me, this involves two things. The first is civility. Civility is, broadly, a dispositional attitude that permits disagreement while eschewing rudeness. The second is intellectual curiosity. This involves being genuinely interested in what one’s opponent has to say – not just for the purposes of defeating their arguments, but for the purposes of giving them a fair say, and perhaps learning something yourself.

Now on to ‘theists’. I do engage theists in discussion often, but the fact that they’re theists is incidental. The group of people I’m interested in engaging can be described as something like ‘individuals who are interested in academic issues (philosophy, science, politics, history, etc.); and who, like me, place importance on civility and curiosity’. Some members of that group just happen to be thiests, and they’re no different than any other member of that group – they’re capable the civility and curiosity described above. 

November 19th, 2013

Divine Hiddenness and Inculpable Ignorance

by Max Andrews

J.L. Schellenberg is a professor of philosophy at Mount Saint Vincent University. Below is his “divine hiddennes and inculpable ignorance” argument. The hiddenness of God is certainly an interesting issue. I do believe God is quite hidden and he enjoys and has intended for himself to be at an epistemic distance from us but I don’t think this argument succeeds in being an argument against the existence of God.

  1. If there is a God, he is perfectly loving.
  2. If a perfectly loving God exists, reasonable nonbelief does not occur.
  3. Reasonable nonbelief occurs.
  4. No perfectly loving God exists.
  5. There is no God.[1]
    read more »

September 8th, 2013

What Does it Mean to Live the “Good Life”?—Counterpoints with PZ Myers

by Max Andrews

Summa TheologicaAtheist biologist PZ Myers recently shared his thoughts on how an atheist is to live the good life. He constructed his opinions as counterpoints to many Christian disciplines and virtues. In the end, the happy atheist is the one who is free from religion, whose ethics are framed around societal responsibilities. Sure, helping and loving one another is good but Myers lacks a purpose or end goal for the good life.

Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas are the leading thinkers when it comes to answering the question, “What is the good life?”  Both Aristotle and Thomas agreed that the good life is fulfilling one’s purpose in life but Thomas was the one who grounded the good life in divine love and purpose.

One of the common misconceptions of Christianity is that the goal of human life is happiness.  The chief end of man is to love and know God—fulfilling God’s purposes for each individual. Man’s end is not happiness in this world, but the knowledge of God, which will ultimately bring humanity to it’s intended purpose and end.

September 8th, 2013

New Study Suggesting that Near Death Experiences are Electrical Surges in the Brain Doesn’t Explain Everything

by Max Andrews

Screen Shot 2013-09-08 at 1.33.32 AMThe recent paper “The Surge of Neurophysiological Coherence and Connectivity in the Dying Brain” published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences argued that Near Death Experiences (NDEs) are a result of heightened states of consciousness just before death.

The research doesn’t explain all the data and assumes naturalism in its hypothesis.

The authors reasoned “that if NDE stems from brain activity, neural correlates of consciousness should be identifiable in humans or animals after cessation of cerebral blood flow” (p. 1). This begs the questions in favor of naturalistic mechanisms involved in NDEs. What this hypothesis does demonstrate is the physical correlation between the experiences and the physical mechanisms involved.

August 23rd, 2013

Recent Study Arguing that Atheists are more Intelligent than Religious People is missing Several Key Factors

by Max Andrews

The recent paper “The Relation Between Intelligence and Religiosity” published in Personality and Social Psychology Review argued that atheists tend to be more intelligent than religious people. The research has frontloaded the study on faulty assumptions and is missing a key factor—a correspondence of worldview to truth.

First and foremost, the research and data gathering is commendable but the assumptions and hidden premises within the study are unsound.

The study associates atheism as non-conformity when stating, “more intelligent people are less likely to conform to religious orthodoxy” (p. 16). This is a category error. If atheism does not conform to the religious majority it still conforms to the non-conformist minority. When this is applied in majority atheist societies, a la Scandinavia, it’s more so dismissed nonchalantly though this criterion is still applied elsewhere in more religious countries (pp. 17, 22). Therefore, non-conformity should not be a measure of intelligence because some societies are religious and others are not; thus, atheism can be either conformist or non-conformist depending on the country, so it can’t be measured that way.

August 15th, 2013

The Secular Outpost Reviews My Recent Debate

by Max Andrews

A friend of mine recently sent me the link to Jeffrey Jay Lowder’s Patheos blog “The Secular Outpost.” I’ve seen the blog a couple times in the past but I’m not familiar with it. I must say, it’s very nice to see a kind review. It was constructive and he demonstrated interaction with my material. That’s so refreshing! I’ve read other reviews from blogs and Mr. Lowder’s stands much higher than, say, John Loftus’ review. Loftus recognized that I was intelligent and that I was a strong opponent in BS. It’s okay if you chuckled there. It’s not offensive when you read where he’s coming from. No hard feelings, it’s just that Mr. Lowder’s is much more substantive.

Anyways, I don’t have much to comment on concerning Lowder’s review. Not many people use abductive arguments and so he found the need to reformulate my arguments [in a manner that he saw worked best, which was nice]. I don’t think that’s necessarily the case but I’ll provide a link to my use and formulation of the arguments. The other thing is that I didn’t defend some premises with much backing from the get-go. That’s a time issue. I wish I could’ve provided more but for my opening I was limited.

August 8th, 2013

Q&A 31: Can Atheism be Shown to be Logically Incoherent?

by Max Andrews

Q&A GraphicQuestion:

Mr. Andrews, 

Thank you very much for your time in reading this question. Previously I had submitted a question to reasonablefaith.org and you responded to my question; thank you for your time and for your response. This question that I have is somewhat similar. Aside from the Ontological Argument, do you think that it is possible to demonstrate that atheism, or even agnosticism, is logically incoherent? Might the following argument support the idea that atheism is logically incoherent?

August 1st, 2013

Transcript and Thoughts on My Debate with Justin Schieber

by Max Andrews

Over the last month or two I’ve been working on a written/audio debate with Justin Schieber of Reasonable Doubts. The topic of the debate was “Does the Christian God Exist?” I imagine the debate may have been released earlier had it not been for my delayed responses due to health issues and moving out of our house and preparing to embark on our move to Scotland. I have apologized to Mr. Schieber concerning this and I extend apologies to the readers and listeners.

I was actually expecting much stronger arguments from Mr. Schieber. Two arguments were off topic and the other one was a far metaphysical and modal stretch. You’ll be able to read his arguments in full but here are my thoughts :