Posts tagged ‘atheism’

July 22nd, 2013

Peter Atkins on the Origin of Everything: Much ado about Nothing

by Max Andrews

The Origin of Everything: Much Ado About Nothing” is a talk by physical chemist Peter Atkins on the boundaries between science and philosophy when it comes to examining the origins of the universe and nothingness.

July 16th, 2013

The Pale Blue Dot

by Max Andrews

“Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.”  Carl Sagan, from a Public Lecture delivered October 13, 1994, at Cornell University

June 12th, 2013

Q&A 26: Revisiting the Viability of Theistic Explanations

by Max Andrews

Question:

This is a follow up question from week 16. For a greater context please see that Q&A.

OK, thank you so much!

I’ll go through your reply point by point more or less, but I’ll try my best to be concise.

On successful research programs – Correct me if I’m wrong, but you seem to assume that science and philosophy aren’t continuous. Perhaps this is based on the idea that science is committed to methodological naturalism (MN). But what do you think of the idea that science isn’t looking for the best naturalistic explanations, but the best explanations, period; and it just so happens that naturalistic explanations have a successful track record and supernatural ones don’t? In other words, MN need not be seen as a presupposition of science, but as sensible advice based on past experience – MN has been tremendously successful before, so why not be committed to it? My point is this: it seems that, unless we assume science and philosophy (qua explanatory practice, at least) are discontinuous, your appeal to God as a metaphysical explanation (as opposed to a scientific one) is questionable.

June 6th, 2013

Q&A 25: Assessing the Harm Principle

by Max Andrews

Question:

Mr. Andrews,

Often when using Dr. Craig’s version of the moral argument, the humanist will object that God is not necessary for at least one objective moral value: the harm principle, i.e. pain is bad. While I’m tempted to retort back that naturalistically speaking, there is nothing to say pain is objectively bad, the humanist will say that the harm principle is an objective moral value by which other things can be measured. This is so because no humans like pain and those that do only take pleasure in mild forms of pain. How might I solve this problem?

Thank you,

Nolan

Answer:

Hi Nolan,

It’s difficult for me to see why the naturalist (or humanist) will place this principle above every other moral fact. It’s nothing more than an attempt to make a categorical exception to objectivity. If this harm principle is objective then certainly it still falls within the parameters of requiring explanation within the moral argument.

June 1st, 2013

Upcoming Podcast Debate with Justin Schieber

by Max Andrews

During the month of June I will be debating Justin Schieber from Reasonable Doubts on the question: “Does the Christian God Exist?”. The debate is designed for a very substantive and rigorous interaction and exchange. The whole debate will be posted online closer to the end of June. The format will be:

  • 20 min. Opening (Max)
  • 20 min. Opening (Mr. Schieber)
  • 15 min. Rebuttal (Max)
  • 15 min. Rebuttal (Mr. Schieber)
  • 10 min. Second Rebuttal (Max)
  • 10 min. Second Rebuttal (Mr. Schieber)
  • 5 min. Closing (Max)
  • 5 min. Closing (Mr. Schieber)

The only downside to the debate is that the format takes away from the spirit of a live interaction. However, there are many perks to this. The time in between recordings will allow for a full, robust response from each of us. I anticipate this to be a very, very good exchange with thorough explications of the arguments. A transcript of the debate with our sources will also be made available.

May 26th, 2013

A Missing Argument from March’s Debate

by Max Andrews

In preparation for my debate this past March I went through my opponents blog to find relevant arguments he may use. (He didn’t use any I had expected. Instead, he just did the scatter-gun approach by putting little, ineffective arguments out there hoping they’d stick instead of presenting a few robust, substantive arguments.) I found this argument on the impossibility of God from omniscience and omnipotence. I expected this because these are the types of arguments atheists should be using. In order to demonstrate a universal negative one must demonstrate that the referent is impossible or logically incoherent; that is, since contradictions are the only things that cannot obtain. To much misfortune, the argument was not presented. If it had been presented the debate would have been much more substantive. (To watch the debate for yourself, watch it here. Don’t take my word for it.)

May 18th, 2013

An Amazing Display of Atheism at Its Worst

by Max Andrews

I love getting emails like this.

Dear Sir,

When people say that philosopher only know how to explain the world and never change the world,I totally agree .

Philosophy is outdated and should be overtaken by Science.
Philosophy is delusional presupposition idea …
People who study philosophy will be unemployed in this modern society.
Philosopher is indeed a sadist and an arrogant profession…
Christianity itself is arrogant and selfish ….
I think that Christian should be ridiculed and mocked in public with contempt !
And see who will save you ? A man on the cloud ?
read more »

May 17th, 2013

The Argument that Jesus Came Too Late in Human History

by Max Andrews

I just saw one of the comments by Jim in a previous post (Face the Facts–There are Gaps in Biblical Genealogies) and I thought I’d briefly add some thought to it.

Max. Thank you. Excellent post as usual. Hitchens also used the 250,000 number frequently in his debates so as to make the point “look at your horrendous God – willing to allow all those generations to perish before he sent a savior…” He had no idea that Scripture clearly affirms a retroactive efficaciousness to the Atonement.

I’ve seen this objection made against Christianity several times and it’s a rather horrendous objection (bolded). I’ve never researched the numbers on how many people have existed before the coming of Jesus and I don’t know how many people have existed since Jesus. I don’t think the numbers really matter that much, to be honest.

I don’t understand why anyone thinks this is such a horrendous concept. Obviously, this is an internal issue particular to Christianity. Christian doctrine never makes the claim that salvation was impossible prior to the resurrection of Jesus. I think it’s quite clear that the New Testament (well, OT too!) teaches that the atonement applied to those who came before Christ as well as those succeeding Christ. So what’s the problem?

May 17th, 2013

Objecting to Intelligent Design because of Bad Design

by Max Andrews

The following objection to intelligent design is from observing the natural data and claiming that it could not have been designed because there are some things that lack proper function or there could have been a better way for a certain [i.e. organ] to function.  This objection is often made by many theistic evolutionists, though, still non-theists object as well, is based on an inappropriate and misconceived understanding of design.[1] The design hypothesis merely states that there is intelligent causation that permits the existence of life (a probability factor).  Optimality of what has been designed is not a criterion for design.  Motor vehicles break down and computers crash.  With comparing motor vehicles to design, there is a natural decay and effects of heat, friction, and weather decay.  What is interesting about the comparison to malfunctioning software is that a frequently known cause of malfunction is an intentionally designed malware or virus, which has been designed for the primary purpose of malfunction, it is designed to break down or decompose a previous design. 

May 8th, 2013

Why Only One God? Why Not Many?

by Max Andrews

(I’d like to note that someone who is actually making this objection is quite removed from the field of the philosophy of religion.)

Today, we look back on the ancients and ridicule them for thinking that volcanic eruptions were the result of the will of the gods.  We now know the geological structure of the planet and how tectonic activity functions and tends to behave in certain areas and layers of the earth.  We can see the effect of the volcano’s eruption and extrapolate the causes to the movement of the iron core of the earth.  Our scientific knowledge in the field of geology and volcanology have progressed since the ancients.  So, has our scientific knowledge of the universe, of all that there is, progressed to the point that we can explain all that there is without having to invoke an uncaused causal agency?  First, before one proceeds with any scientific account for an explanation, one must notice the metaphysical aspect of the question.  This question is a philosophical question, not a scientific question.  Can we extrapolate all causes to have the first cause be self-caused?  Using something within the system of “all that there is” to explain the system itself (“all that there is”) is circular.  The whole notion is self-defeating.