Posts tagged ‘atheist’

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. 

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 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 :

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 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 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 »

April 21st, 2013

The Reverse Ontological Argument

by Max Andrews

Interestingly, there is an argument used by atheists to demonstrate that God is impossible, which picks up on the ontological argument. This argument is traditionally called the reverse ontological argument. Instead of demonstrating that God a maximally great being that exists necessarily, the reverse form is used to demonstrate that God is impossible. To give a context for the atheistic argument here are the two most popular versions of the theistic ontological argument:

The Anselmian Ontological Argument (Theistic)

  1. God exists in the understanding
  2. God is a possible being
  3. If X exists only in the understanding and is a possible being, then X might have been greater
  4. Suppose God exists only in the understanding
  5. God might have been greater (2, 4, 3)
  6. God is a being than which a greater is not possible
  7. So, a being than which nothing greater is not possible is a being which is greater is possible
  8. Since 4 led to a contradiction 4 must be false
  9. God exists not only in the understanding alone—God exists in reality as well
    read more »